Three exact same sprints which have made a city become synonymous of success. The Movistar Team has claimed yet another victory in Poitiers, the capital city of the Poitou-Charentes and final venue of its regional cycle race, thanks to Jesús Herrada, who completed the telephone squad’s strong gamble by a short margin after much trying. By only half a wheel against Belgian Jan Bakelants (OPQ), the Spaniard claimed his second victory in 2014 and the 33rd for the Blues, now just three short of the record high from 1998 (36).
The attacks by the group directed by José Luis Jaimerena -which started and ended the day with two riders, Dowsett (7th) and Herrada himself (9th, best u25) into the GC’s top-ten, dominated by Sylvain Chavanel (IAM)- started as the bunch tackled the lumpy, decisive circuit around the climb of Buxerolles (500m at 11%). An initial move by Pablo Lastras was followed by an acceleration from Jasha Sütterlin, who reached down the day’s break, later went solo and was eventually caught by Italian Nicola Boem (BAR), with whom he rode up-front until a short field including Herrada caught the duo with 3k remaining.
With no big sprinters left into the group after they were caught, Herrada saved his last big of energy until the finish and managed -differently to his long breakaway in 2013- to outsprint the bunch and claim a more-than-deserved 5th pro success -Spanish road race champion (’13), stages in Asturias (’12 and the Route du Sud (’14)-.
Jesús Herrada: “It’s a well-deserved victory after everything we did during the whole week. The other day, we came close with Sanz, and nearly in every stage we’ve been into the top ten. Since we got to the circuit today, we tried it one by one: Lastras was the first off; then Dowsett; after him, myself; and at the end, it was Sütterlin who escaped. We only reached him at the end of the last climb. I knew I had to keep full focus at that point, it was going to split, and we were left just fifteen. I hadn’t won this way as a pro yet, but I know I’m a fast guy into short field sprints and I was confident I could take this one, especially since I knew the finish after winning last year.
“The bunch eventually caught us and Hushovd could take the last turn first, but he crashed. In that moment, I didn’t hesitate: I launched my sprint, just like last year, and even though it was a close one, I could hold on and win. It’s a good way to complete a great season for me. Albasini beat me in Romandie but that grudge I held was off today. That win in the Route du Sud and especially my performance in the Tour, despite being a debutant – I think I must stay happy. I’ll be racing in Plouay on Sunday, then the Canadian classics. I think I’ll be part of the TTT Worlds team and then, I’ll wait for the national coach to call on me for either the TT or the road race in Ponferrada. Let’s hope I get selected – I’m excited to be there, even more since it’s ridden in our home country.”