News: Connor Swift 5th in Spanish Pro Race

The first edition of the Clásica Jaén Paraiso Interior (1.1), a Spanish race with gravel sections, was won by Alexey Lutsenko with TroBro Leon winner Connor Swift in 5th place.

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News: Connor Swift 5th in Spanish Pro Race

The first edition of the Clásica Jaén Paraiso Interior (1.1), a Spanish race with gravel sections, was won by Alexey Lutsenko with Connor Swift in 4th place.

The 29-year-old Kazakh soloed to the victory whilst the chase group behind, which Connor was part of before the final climb, saw Tim Wellens cross the line in second & Loïc Vliegen in third.

Alexey Lutsenko “I am really happy to take this win in my first race of the season. Together with the team, I spent two good weeks at the altitude training camp in Teide and today I felt ready and motivated to try something.

Last year I already won a gravel race – Serenissima Gravel, so I knew what to expect. The race turned out to be a hard one with a lot of climbs and gravel sectors. But the team helped me to save some energy for the decisive part and then I just did my best in attacks. I knew that Tim Wellens can be a real favorite in this kind of race, so my plan was to attack earlier and to try to go solo and it worked out perfectly. It is a very nice feeling to win in the first race of the season! Now I am looking forward to the next race – Vuelta a Andalucia”.

Connor Swift after his World Class ride: “I like this kind of race that doesn’t use big city roads but instead goes to small roads, passes through small towns giving them the look of a classic. The race was hard, I was at one moment in a group that came back on Lutsenko, then he went back alone in front. He was really strong today. I am satisfied with my feeling, with my legs at this time of the season. It’s good in view of the races to come. The team did a good job to place me, Matîs and Warren at the crucial points so chapeau to the team”.

…. continued after the advert.

It was a race in Andalusia that should not be underestimated with more than three thousand meters of climbing and almost forty kilometres of gravel sectors. The start was in Baeza, a historic place with about 15 thousand inhabitants. From there it went over several tough gravel sections and a relatively easy middle section to the tough final around the finish, Úbeda. The finish line was on a climb of 6.1 kilometres at 5.5%, of which 5.4 kilometres were on gravel. This climb was on the parcour no less than three times.

Igor Arrieta and Raúl García (both Equipo Kern Pharma), Jenno Berckmoes (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Chad Haga (Human Powered Health) rode ahead of the peloton for a while as early escapees, although this breakaway was short-lived.

The race exploded very early: the favorites for the victory already showed themselves on the first gravel sections. Alexey Lutsenko threw the cat among the pigeons at over fifty kilometres from the finish. The extremely strong Kazakh, who last year won a comparable event in Italy, jumped away from first an elite group together with Tim Wellens.

Lutsenko’s pace was so high that Wellens had to let him go fairly quickly. Lutsenko was alone, and that with more than forty kilometres on the course. However, the rider of Astana Qazaqstan Team decided not to wait for the first pursuers and threw himself fully into the climb to Úbeda. The gap to the pursuers became bigger and bigger, but just before the second passage of the Úbeda climb, Lutsenko was again joined by Wellens, Connor Swift (yah!) and Lennard Kämna. Lutsenko, however, was undeterred and patiently waited for his moment.

On the flanks of the second section of the Úbeda climb, we saw a similar course: Lutsenko turned out to have the strongest climbing legs and only once again broke away from his closest rivals. The U23 world champion from Valkenburg managed to widen a considerable gap on the power and started the final round of more than twenty kilometres with a half minute lead. The pursuers already seemed to be reconciled to battle for the minor podium places as Lutsenko was no match for them. The lead grew more and more as the kilometres went by.

Whilst Lutsenko had plenty of time to celebrate his victory, behind the chase group explorded as Tim Wellens managed to shake off his compatriot Löic Vliegen in the difficult final kilometre and thus managed to take second place.

1. Alexey Lutsenko Astana Qazaqstan Team 4:49:12
2. Tim Wellens Lotto Soudal + 53
3. Loic Vliegen Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux + 57
4. Lennard Kämna BORA-hansgrohe + 1:16
5. Connor Swift Team Arkéa-Samsic + 1:28
6. Jai Hindley BORA-hansgrohe + 1:54
7. Warren Barguil Team Arkéa-Samsic + 1:54
8. Steff Cras Lotto Soudal + 1:54
9. Andreas Kron Lotto Soudal + 1:54
10. Jonathan Hivert B&B Hotels-KTM

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