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Vicioso took the first win since his horrific crash in the Giro when he beat Izagirre and Intxausti in the 3-rider uphill sprint at the GP Miguel Indurain

Photo: Team Katusha

ANGEL VICIOSO

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BEÑAT INTXAUSTI

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GP MIGUEL INDURAIN

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ION IZAGIRRE

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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04.04.2015 @ 18:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Angel Vicioso (Katusha) proved that he has fully recovered from his horrific crash at last year’s Giro d’Italia when he took a huge win in the GP Miguel Indurain. Having made it into an 11-rider group that was whittled down to just 4 riders on the final climb, the Spaniard finally beat the Movistar duo of Ion Izagirre and Benat Intxausti in the uphill sprint in Estella to take his first victory since his accident.

 

Less than one year ago, rumours on social media claimed that Angel Vicioso had ended his career after he was involved in the big crash on the dramatic sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia. Left with a broken femur, the 37-year-old Spaniard faced a long recovery and for many it seemed unlikely that the veteran would be able to get back to his best.

 

However, Vicioso defied expectations and earlier this year he made his comeback at the Dubai Tour. Already in that race he was back at a competitive level and since then he has continued his progress.

 

Playing his usual support role, he had not achieved any major results when he lined up for today’s GP Miguel Indurain where he was again expected to help his leader Daniel Moreno. His job was to cover the moves in the final part of the hilly course and that’s what he did when he joined an 11-rider group that had been formed after an attack from Benat Intxausti.

 

However, Vicioso was not the protected rider and when the gap had grown to 1.30, his Katusha teammates started to chase. This allowed the veteran to follow wheels in the front group which was gradually whittled down to just four riders on the final climb which summited with 8.9km to go.

 

Vicioso was joined by Intxautsi, Ion Izagirre and Janier Acevedo (Cannondale-Garmin) in that group which entered the final 5km with an advantage of 30 seconds. He was quick to react when Intxausti tried to get clear and the quartet were back together by the time they reached the final 900m climb to the finish.

 

While big favourite Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had attacked from behind and Acevedo got distanced, Vicioso bided his time despite being up against to Movistar teammates. He did everything perfectly to finally win the uphill sprint to take his first win since the horrific crash, with Izagirre taking 2nd and Intxautsi 3rd.

 

Many of the riders in today’s race will be back in action tomorrow in the Vuelta a la Rioja which is a much flatter affair suited to sprinters. Climbing action resumes on Monday when Spain plays host to the next WorldTour stage race, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

 

A hilly course

The 17th GP Miguel Indurain was held on 192.7km course that started and finished in Estella. After a mainly flat first half, the riders hit the hilly finale that included four categorized climbs. The final ascent was located just 8.9km from the finish and from there the riders descended to the bottom of the final 1km rise to the finish in at the Basilica del Puy in Estella.

 

123 rider took the start in beautiful weather conditions and they got the race off to a very fast start with lots of attacks. Samuel Magalhaes (Radio Popular) was the first rider to take off but after 5km of fast racing, the peloton was still all together.

 

The break is formed

At the 12km mark, the early break was formed when Antonio Molina (Caja Rural), David Lozano (Novo Nordisk), Ibai Salas, Victor Martin (Burgos), Garikoitz Bravo (Murias Taldea) and Luca Frasa (Start Massi) got clear. 4.5km later, they had built a gap of 1.40 and they continued to extend their advantage. When Salas beat Bravo and Molina in the first special sprint, it was 3.40 but now the peloton started to chase.

 

Bravo beat Salas and Lozano in the first intermediate sprint while the peloton kept the gap stable at around 3.45. Moments later, Frasa was distanced from the break, leaving just 5 riders to press on.

 

Movistar take control

Salas beat Lozano and Martin in the second special sprint and he was faster than Lozano and Martin in the second intermediate sprints. Meanwhile, it was the Movistar team which had taken control in the peloton and was working to keep the gap stable.

 

After 75km of racing, the Spanish team accelerated slightly and managed to reduce the gap to less than 3 minutes. Moments later, Bravo won the next sprint ahead of Lozano and Molina to signal the start of the climbing.

 

Movistar accelerate

Movistar were now accelerating and when Martin led Molina, Bravo, Salas and Lozano over the top of the first climb, the gap was only 1.44. Bravo was faster than Lozano and Salas in the next sprint while Movistar worked hard to keep the gap at around 2 minutes.

 

After 115km of racing, it was time for Movistar to really push the pace and in a matter of a few kilometres, the gap dropped to less than a minute as they hit the hardest climb of the day. Molina was the first to get distanced and later Lozano and Bravo also had to surrender.

 

Intxausti makes his move

At the top of the climb, Martin led Salas over the line while Bravo was still a bit ahead of the peloton which was led by Movistar riders Javier Moreno, Winner Anacona, Nairo Quintana and Igor Anton. The Spanish team kept the pace high and at the 143km mark, it was all back together.

 

On the Alto de Lezaun, Movistar started the next part of their plan when Benat Intxausti took off. He was the first to crest the summit followed by Vicioso, Janier Acevedo (Cannondale-Garmin), Ion Izagirre (Movistar) and Alberto Gallego (Radio Popular).

 

An 11-rider group is formed

As they started the descent, Intxausti, Vicioso, Acevedo, Izagirre and Gallego had been joined by Nathan Brown (Cannondale), Amets Txurruka, Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural), Imanol Estevez (Murias Taldea), Delio Fernandez (W52) and Francisco Mancebo (Skydive) to form an 11-rider group. They quickly managed to extend their advantage to a minute and they entered the final 35km with an advantage of 1.30.

 

Gallego led Txurruka and Vicioso across the line in the final sprint while Katusha started to chase. With Dmitry Kozontchuk doing a massive amount of work, the gap came down to less than 1 minute with 20km to go.

 

The group splits up

As the riders hit the final climb, it was only 45 seconds and Carthy was now distanced from the front group. As Izagirre set a hard pace, Estevez was the next to surrender and as they reached the summit, only Acevedo, Intxausti, Izagirre and Vicioso were left.

 

With 5km to go, the four leaders were still35 seconds ahead and it was clear that those four riders would decide the race. Intxausti and Vicioso briefly got clear but when they reached the bottom of the final climb, the front quartet was back together. Alejandro Valverde tried to join them but he never made the junction and instead, Vicioso won the uphill sprint to make it a big day for Katusha.

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