Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Feb 13, 2016 – 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/Yuzuru Sunada
BMC Racing Team dominated 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 Sports Director Jackson Stewart said it was a fantastic effort by the team to deliver the win.
“Today everything we thought would happen, happened. In the end we won with Phil like we thought we could but it was a really strong ride by everyone. The team at one point had to chase and they did a good job of controlling it after the first big climb. They controlled it all the way to the finish.”
“Tejay had a go and he really looked incredible for a moment, before he was caught back in the group. Ben and Tejay then protected Phil and delivered him to the line. So it was a really good execution and a great demonstration of our ability as a team.”
BMC Racing Team is lining up at Classica de Almeria tomorrow with the same team of seven riders.
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 5:02:19
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team
5. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:04
6. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15
7. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:18
8. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:05
9. Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:06
10. Víctor De La Parte (Spa) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:01:09