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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, February 7, 2019

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Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage one team reports

Second-place Ion Izagirre's Astana team posted this race report:

In his debut for Astana Pro Team, Ion Izagirre finished second in the opening ITT of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, just 5 seconds behind winner Edvald Boasson Hagen. Pello Bilbao also made it into the top 10, taking the seventh place. Astana Pro Team was the fastest team of the day, with all riders finishing within the top 60.

Edvald Boasson hagen

Edvald Boasson Hagen was the day's fastest rider.

It was a short but hard start of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, as the riders faced an ITT of 10,3 kilometers through the streets of Orihuela, Spain. Especially the final 700 meters uphill were decisive for the classification. Pello Bilbao performed well, finishing in the second provisional time (13’07”).

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- It’s the best way to start the season, with two riders in the top 10 today. We can be proud, it’s a result of all the work and tests we did at the training camp. All of our partners contributed to this result, as they’re also working on developing their products that we use. Our new engineer, Ivan Velasco, helped us a lot in improving our TT skills. It was a weak point of our team last season, but I think we can be proud of our work on this. We’re in a good position for the overall and we will be concentrated until stage 4, where the GC will be decided, - said Pello Bilbao.

In the end, it was Ion Izagirre who came close to the stage victory, as he finished just 5 seconds behind winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (13’00”). It means the second place for Izagirre in his debut race for Astana Pro Team.

- I had a good feeling during the day. It was my first race for Astana and I’m happy with it. I did a lot of work during the winter, trained hard, we worked very well at the training camps, on the TT position as well. So today I felt good and I think I did a good TT. The first part was very fast while the climb was the place to make the difference. I took a good second place, it is a nice result for me and the team at the start of the season. I think with this result I proved I’m ready to fight for the GC in this race,- said Ion Izagirre.

Stage 2 will start and finish in Alicante after 166 kilometers including three categorized climbs, the final climb on 42 kilometers before the finish.

Here's what Team Sky had to say:

Diego Rosa and Geraint Thomas set an identical time in the opening time trial to kick off the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

The Team Sky teammates set a marker of 13 minutes and 15 seconds across the course, which featured a steep final climb in Orihuela.

The pair finished 11th and 13th respectively in a tightly bunched leaderboard, 21 seconds back on stage victor Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).

The event marks the start of the European season for Team Sky, with Thomas happy to be back in action as he looks for hard race days to bolster his early season form.

“It was okay I just lacked that strength really at the end. I tried to go out at a solid pace, but I knew starting that last climb I wasn’t going to have the legs to keep this going all the way to the top. It is what it is and I’m pleased, considering the work I’ve done with no top end (training).

“I could have ridden it a bit better and saved myself for that climb a little bit more. But that was a good hit out and same again for the next few days.”

What's next?
Stage two sees the race head up into the hills around Alicante. There are three categorised climbs on the menu, but with around 40km downhill to the finish following the Alto de Carrasqueta, a sprint finish looks likely.

Team Movistar posted this report:

Norwegian ace Edvald Boasson Hagen (DDD) took victory on Wednesday’s opening, mixed-terrain ITT in the 2019 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, the 10.2km route in and around Orihuela featuring nine kilometers of long straights before the final 700m uphill -with slopes up to 13%- just outside this small city between Alicante and Murcia.

The Movistar Team had an overall solid performance, with three of its riders -the last three to start- within the day’s top 15. Two Blues with an early first peak this season, Nelson Oliveira and Jürgen Roelandts, joined Alejandro Valverde near the top of the standings: while the Belgian was 15th (+23″), the Portuguese took a MOV-best 6th spot, just off 11″ the winner. Meanwhile, Valverde, today wearing his regular, blue Movistar Team kit, completed a very consistent effort, ninth through the intermediate check (+7″) and 8th over the line, 14″ behind the race’s first yellow jersey. Only three climbers / punchy finishers were better today: Ion Izagirre (AST), 2nd at the finish, 9″ faster; Dylan Teuns (TBM), 6″ ahead; and Pello Bilbao (AST), just 1″ quicker than the road World Champion

With no bonuses available at either intermediate sprints or finishes, it will only be down to splits in the next few days to clarity a GC which shouldn’t suffer many chances on the way to Alicante, Thursday (166km), the hilly route in the interior of this coastal province ending up with a long descent after the Carrasqueta (Cat-3), crested more than 40km from the end.

Alejandro Valverde:
“My aim for the day was to try and stay near or inside the top 15, so this result is OK, quite good. I’m close to the top contenders and quite satisfied with today’s effort. Let’s go day-by-day and see what happens this week.”

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