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Using his trademark kick, Ulissi came out on top in the 16-rider uphill sprint at the Circuito del Getxo; Yates finished second and Herrada was third

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

CIRCUITO DE GETXO

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DIEGO ULISSI

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NEWS

JOSÉ HERRADA LÓPEZ

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NEWS

SIMON YATES

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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31.07.2016 @ 15:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

More than a month after his last win in the Tour de Slovenie time trial, Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) returned to the top step of the podium when he emerged as the strongest in the uphill sprint at the Circuito de Getxo. Having joined a 16-rider front group, the Italian beat Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExhange) and José Herrada (Movistar) into the minor podium positions.

 

After several years of showing lots of promise, Diego Ulissi emerged as one of the best uphill sprinters in the world when he powered to victory in two puncheur stages at the 2014 Giro d’Italia. He repeated the achievement in a similar stage one year later and with a victory in the Stirling stage at the Tour Down Under, he has proved himself in such finales at WorldTour level.

 

Those impressive results made him an obvious favourite for today’s Circuito de Getxo which finishes on a steep 700m climb and has been a happy hunting ground for strong sprinters and puncheurs. The Italian was very motivated to bounce back after a disappointing performance in the Clasica San Sebastian where he could only manage 44th.

 

Ulissi did an attentive race and made sure to join the decisive 16-rider group which went clear just after the halfway point. By doing so, he got rid of two of his biggest rivals, Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural), and as no one took the initiative to bring them back, the group ended up as the decisive move.

 

However, Ulissi was still up against the in-form Simon Yates who was seventh in San Sebastian and won the Klasika Ordizia. However, he had no chance against the strong Lampre-Merida captain who put one second into his British rival in the uphill sprint to claim his first win since the end of June.

 

The 71st edition of the Circuito de Getxo was held over 10 laps of a 17km circuit around the city of Getxo for a total distance of 170km. The circuit included numerous roundabouts but was almost completely flat. There were only two small climbs in the early part and then the riders hit flat roads that led to the nasty sting in the tail. The final 732m were what the race was all about as they are all uphill. The climbs averaged 8.8% in the first half and included a steep 14% section in the second half, making it a perfect race for puncheurs.

 

It was rainy day in Spain when the riders gathered for the start which was fast and aggressive. Movistar had three riders in a break that escaped on the first lap but when the right 9-rider group was formed, they only had Ruben Fernandez and Francisco Ventoso there. The pair were joined by Adrian Gonzalez (Euskadi), Igor Merino, Pablo Torres (Burgos), Lluis Mas (Caja Rural, Marco Zamparella, Oscar Pelegri (Amore e Vita) and Mario Costa (Lampre-Merida) and they had a one-minute advantage after the first lap, with Torres leading the group across the line

 

Caja Rural took responsibility for the pace-setting in the peloton but they allowed the gap to grow steadily. At the end of the fourth lap, it was 3.55 but then the group accelerated hard. After five laps, the gap was only a minute. At the end of the sixth lap, it was all back together and now Movistar kicked into action.

 

Jose Herrada and Fernandez tried to make the race hard and as the rain stopped, a 14-rider group managed to build an advantage of 40 seconds. Three riders, including Jose Herrada, bridged across and the group quickly got a big advantage.

 

Simon Yates, Ametx Txurruka (Orica-BikeExchange)Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Pello Bilbao and Angel Madrazo(Caja Rural) were the biggest name in the group which also included Antonio Pedrero, Marc Soler and Jorge Arcas from Movistar and had a gap of 3.40 as they went up the final climb at the end of the 8th lap. At thispoint, Antonio Pedrero (Movistar) was dropped, leaving 16 riders to press on.

 

Arcas made a solo attack and he started the final lap with and advantage of 15 seconds. AT this point, the peloton had already lost seven minutes and it was clear that the escapees were going to decide the race.

 

Arcas failed to stay clear and was brought back before they hit the climb again. In the end, it came down to an uphill sprint and here Ulissi used his trademark kick to beat Yates and Herrada and so claim his first win since the Tour de Slovenie time trial in June.

 

With a busy week of racing in the Basque Country done and dusted, the attention in Spain turns to the traditional warm-up race for the Vuelta, Vuelta a Burgos which starts on Tuesday.

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