On Sunday, Team NetApp-Endura’s Sam Bennett achieved an impressive win in the 29th Clásica de Almería. The 23 year old Irishman’s victory was the first of the year for Team NetApp-Endura too.
After multiple attacks at the start of the race, a breakaway group of seven riders was able to pull away from the field after 15km. The peloton didn’t lose control of the group and did not allow them to build up more than a two and a half minute lead. After the break was brought back with 50km to go, the race winning selection was made with 20km to run. 19 riders, including four from Team NetApp-Endura, took off and quickly built up a one-minute lead. Thanks to support from his teammates, Sam Bennett was able to conserve valuable energy for the final kilometers and commandingly win the sprint ahead of Juan Jose Lobato of Movistar Team.
The guys got me perfectly to about 600m to go. I was well positioned in the last corner. I had to go at 250m because the pace dropped. I came around everyone and took the inside line. At 100m to go my legs started to buckle and I thought I wasn’t going to make it. But luckily I did!
I am so happy to have taken my first win as a pro with Team NetApp-Endura. It was a very nice race today, great weather and great roads. Movistar set a nice hard tempo on the climbs and split it in the final with cross winds. It was good for me because it tired everyone else out and got rid of other sprinters. I want to thank all of my team mates who helped me every single chance they got. They really made my job easier and for sure this result came as a result of great team work!
Alex Sans Vega, Sports Director, Team NetApp-Endura:
I am very happy with today’s results. An early win is so important for motivating the team. Our guys put in a great team performance yesterday, and today they even managed to surpass that effort. Iker Camano, Tiago Machado, and Erick Rowsell aren’t usually Sam’s lead-out riders. That is why I am all the more pleased that everything worked so perfectly today and that Sam is able to rely on all of his teammates. I hope that we will be able to maintain this level, the atmosphere in the team and this racing style for our upcoming races.
Valverde’s win on the Castillo de Lorca on Saturday saw him win the Vuelta a Murcia for the fourth time and was his fifth win of the still young 2014 season. Movistar Team were in firm control of the race all day, bringing back an early break before the captain himself went in lone pursuit of Jérôme Coppel (Cofidis) who had jumped clear with 50km to go. When the leading pair was reeled in with 15km to go, Valverde’s team-mates protected their leader in towards the finale. Alejandro then responded to an attack by Tiago Machado before finishing with his classic, explosive touch for a record fourth win in the race – three from when it was a stage race (2004, 2007 and 2008) and now as a one day race.
I couldn’t race it some years, and I came close to winning last season – I really wanted to get a victory at home. I had the confidence from last week’s racing in Andalucía, but there were some team-mates who could do well, too – we had to wait and value our chances when we were on the road. We still wanted to approach the climbs fast to make a selection into the group, and we succeeded.
I chose to jump after Coppel to release some pressure off my team-mates’ shoulders. Even though we got more than one minute, I knew it was hard for the two of us to reach the finish, because we could open a gap when the wind blew on our tail, but once we took the turn in Totana, the group would catch us – that’s how it happened, and that’s why I preferred to save energy in the finale, making the others behind spend energy while our guys could sit on their wheels.
When we saw how everyone was going, we decided to play my card again. Machado attacked really strong, and even though Nairo went for him in the beginning, he eventually went solo. He was making a serious gap and I decided to make a long attack. When I was reaching him, I took some breath to accelerate again – and it turned out well. I dedicate this victory to all my family, who were present here, and to the Murcian fans, who support me all year and were impressive on the roads today.