The Israel Start-Up Nation riders put on a strong team performance in Saturday’s GP Indurain with several attacks and Krists Neilands sprinting to sixth place on the line.
From the start of the race, it was clear to see that the ISN riders were eager to get in the mix. Both Guy Niv and Robin Plamondon were on the attack early on but unfortunately, neither group managed to get away. Instead, six riders got up the road and opened up a small gap of around two minutes.
The peloton always kept breakaway on a tight leash and with 70 km left to go, it all came back together again. Several riders then tried to get away, amongst them James Piccoli, but it was only with 40 km to go that another group went clear. Ben Hermans did well to make it into this four-riders break, letting Neilands save energy in the chase group behind.
The quartet managed to get a gap over 40 seconds on the pack but on the final climb, the group dissolved as the riders lost contact one by one. Behind them, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) attacked and went on to take the win, while Neilands showed great shape to finish sixth with Hermans in 11th place on the day.
Sports director, Oscar Guerrero Celaya: ”I’m very pleased with how the team raced today. We wanted to race aggressively as we knew this would be a difficult race to control, which is why we went on the late attacks with Piccoli and Hermans. It would have been a good if there had been a Movistar rider in that group with Hermans, then they would probably have had a bigger gap starting on the last climb. I knew that 40 seconds wouldn’t be enough as Valverde was bound to attack but we did everything we could. We were always in the mix. Everybody did their part and I’m very happy with the team spirit we showed today.”