“The winter was very good. This year I started completely differently and trained normally and do everything you have to do. I lack the competitive rhythm, but I think I arrive with a good base and can improve,” he explained. Juan Ayuso for AS and the rest of the media present at the Clásica Jaén, Starting point of his 2024 season. The same was true for his compatriot Carlos Rodríguez and, strangely enough, both reached the finish line together (18th Carlos, 19th Juan) and exchanged their opinions. It wasn’t his day, but the contact was satisfactory. The absolute protagonist with an anthological exhibition was Oier Lazkano (24 years), who took his first win of the season after a 110 km breakaway attempt. One by one he let go of all his adventure companions until he reached the finish line alone, a testament to the strength that lies in his legs and that can bring so much joy to Spanish cycling in the years to come.
The show lived up to expectations from start to finish. It wasn’t an easy task after that a route that saw the sections of Sterrato because of heavy rain falls in Jaén in recent days. Fortunately, the weather was more favorable than expected and did not dampen the spirits of the runners, who were ready to fight from the start. After several unsuccessful attempts, including that of Sepp Kuss and Marc Soler, Fifteen brave men formed a very high flight during the climb to Ibros. Men like Covi, Wellens, Tratnik and others Spanish trio consisting of Oier Lazkano, Igor Arrieta and Gonzalo Serrano. Visma expected a delicate situation and started controlling from behind when the difference was more than 2 minutes. But it would get even more difficult…
About halfway through the race, five runners increased their bets. It was the escape of the escape. Prodhomme, Cepeda, Molenaar, Arrieta and Lazkano, its protagonists. Complete understanding between them, relaxation from the rear in most squads, with the exception of Visma, who was given the overarching idea of leading the pursuit. The result? With 70 km ahead, the breakaway’s lead was five minutes. There were still 17km left Sterrato, so any scenario was possible. The main quintet began to dream.
In the minutes before landing, tension grew on both sides. Falls from behind. What lies ahead is a lack of understanding between the refugees. Lazkano, whom they saw as the strongest, fell into despair due to the lack of cooperation. And the fireworks began… land in sight. Only Arrieta and Prodhomme could follow a Lazkano in the first sector, who didn’t even look back. At this point, almost four minutes later, much of Visma’s plans were dashed: Van Aert suffered a puncture which caused him to lose a minute with the favorite group. Van Dijke pulled himself out like a lifebelt, but it soon sank and the Belgian was left alone in the danger. Game over.
And the huge sea of olive trees appeared in front of the runners. In the second land sector Tratnik and Kuss exploded the group of the chosen ones, where both Ayuso and Rodríguez could not resist. Then a short break. At the front, Lazkano and Prodhomme, now without Arrieta, were two minutes ahead with 20 kilometers to go. Victory was in their hands. With 13 km to go, Lazkano fired his last bullet on the last unpaved stretch. The impact at the center of the target. An agonizing effort until the end, as the hyenas (Tratnik, Kuss, Wellens and Tronchon) were just over half a minute away. There was enough scope to enjoy and give victory alone Movistar celebrates its fourth win of the season each of them with a different cyclist: Pelayo (Mallorca Challenge), Barta (Valencian Community), Gaviria (Tour Colombia) and Oier himself. Don’t forget his name because he is already starting to leave his mark.
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