In the Clasica de Almeria, the expected battle between sprinters did take place on Sunday, in the streets of Roquetas de Mar. After a quite traditional first part of the race, the preparation for the bunch sprint proved to be hotly contested. In these messy conditions, Marc Sarreau didn’t manage to play his card. In the end, it was Lewis Askey and Noah Hobbs who took part in the sprint and placed ninth and twelfth respectively. Olav Kooij claimed victory.

After a day for punchers-climbers in Murcia, the fast men were expected on the Clasica de Almeria this Sunday after 192 kilometers, despite a hilly first part of the race. “We knew that it was a typical sprinter race if you look at the past editions,” said William Green, the sports director of the Groupama-FDJ cycling team alongside Frédéric Guesdon. “We played for the same, and we were fully focused on the sprint.” The traditional scenario therefore took place, with the breakaway of Baptiste Vadic (TotalEnergies), Luis Ángel Maté (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Will Barta (Movistar), José María García and Alex Molenaar (Illes Balears Arabay Cycling). “It was an extremely controlled race,” added William. “The breakaway went directly, and the sprinters teams closed the road. The biggest time gap was about five minutes and then the main teams like Visma-Lease a Bike led the chase. The breakaway was caught with fourteen kilometres to go. That’s basically when the final started. When we looked at the final, we thought it would start around there, so we kept our original plan.”

“A really good improvement”, William Green

The French champion Valentin Madouas particularly positioned at the front to protect his teammates as they approached the last ten kilometers, then the team tried to stay in the upper part of the bunch. “We analysed the finale together, and where we could use each rider’s skills and abilities,” added William. “We rode very well. We didn’t make any real mistakes in the final and we had a good position even if it was technical. Everything was going very well until 500 metres to go. Unfortunately, our sprinter Marc got a bit lost after the last turn and we had to sprint with Lewis”. Marc Sarreau couldn’t make his way through, so Lewis Askey and Noah Hobbs got involved in the sprint. The first one managed to grab ninth place while his young compatriot, brought back by Clément Russo, crossed the line in twelfth position. “La Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana was the first step for our lead-out train, and we had some similar riders today,” concluded William. “We made a really good improvement in how we function and work as a team. That’s really pleasing to see the progress and hopefully we can continue to improve and get some big results.”

Part of the group is now heading to Portugal, where the Volta ao Algarve will take place from Wednesday.

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