Report: Victory for Gilbert in Murcia


Philippe Gilbert has sprinted to his first victory of the 2016 season at the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia

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Report: Victory for Gilbert in Murcia

Philippe Gilbert has sprinted to his first victory of the 2016 season at the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia today, beating Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) to the line.

BMC Racing Team put three riders into the top ten with Ben Hermans crossing the line in fifth place, and Tejay van Garderen in seventh.

“It couldn’t have gone any better at the 199.3 kilometer one-day race from San Javier to Murcia”, Gilbert said. “Today was just a great day. I won but it was really a win for the whole team.”

“We really raced perfectly together. I’ve done a lot of races but I’ve never really seen anything like this in my life. There were 20 guys left at the top of the climb with 20 kilometers to go and I was suffering, but I was still there with the guys. To have all seven of us out of 20 guys was really amazing to see.”

“We rode full gas to the last climb and kept a high tempo, almost at max speed. Tejay attacked two kilometers from the top at which point we were only six or seven guys left. We caught him with two kilometers to go and then I took my chance in the sprint. So there was no way we were going to lose the race, either with Tejay winning solo or me in the sprint. I want to thank all of my teammates because we really raced together and it was so nice.”

A six-rider breakaway gained a lead of eight minutes over the peloton until the category 1 Alto Collado Bermejo climb put the pressure on the majority of riders at 80 kilometers to go, leaving 20 riders at the front of the race.

With 13 kilometers remaining, Van Garderen attacked on the Cresta del Gallo, the final climb of the day, gaining a 10 second advantage. He was pulled back into the group, putting BMC Racing Team is a strong position going into the final kilometers with three riders.

Hermans delivered a brilliant lead out for Gilbert, who has secured his first win in only his fifth race day this year. “At the Dubai Tour I was already feeling good. I recovered well and trained a lot in between the two races so yeah, I think I’m ready for the season,” Gilbert explained.

BMC Racing Team is lining up at Classica de Almeria tomorrow with the same team of seven riders.



Other Reactions

Alejandro Valverde: “I’m quite happy. We’re starting the season well, a really long one this year – legs are good to be just February. We took a long shot at the win, racing agressively; I think it was a nice try from us Rubén, Ion and Myself into the Collado Bermejo descent, but working hard at the front also takes a lot of energy, and with Gilbert’s strong team-mates, things get more complicated into such a finale.

“At the sprint, Luisle and myself were much more looking at each other rather than matching Gilbert’s moves; we jumped from a long way to go and the headwind made it impossible to stick until the end. Still, Gilbert is quite a name – this was a decent 2nd place, and the race shows we’re ready to win. I want to thank the Murcian fans; there were lots of them all over the course and I want to dedicate this effort to them; their support was excellent.”
Ilnur Zakarin (3rd)”Honestly, I felt pretty well before the start, but I did not aim to be on the podium today. I wanted to do good work in this race since it is my first race in the season and I wanted to get some racing rhythm. But everything was really good during the race. The team helped me a lot”.

“It was a strong cross wind and the guys protected me well. The main things in this race happened on the descents, because on the climbs there was a headwind and it was impossible to get any big advantage. Our sports director Xavier Florencio suggested that I attack in the final, so I found a possibility to go away with 3 km to go. But the wind was still strong, so the others brought me back”.

“In the final I was able to sprint and to take a podium place. I am pretty happy with it, it was a nice race. I feel like I am in a good shape now and I want to save it, – said Ilnur Zakarin.

1. Philippe Gilbert, BMC
2. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar
3. Ilnur, Zakarin, Kastusha

28. Hugh Carthy



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