Spanish national champion triumphs from the breakaway.
Movistar Team’s Oier Lazkano won the third edition of the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior. The Spanish national champion managed to triumph from the breakaway, finishing a 100-kilometer effort in style (and breathless!) with a solo move in the last Camino de Olivos – the gravel sectors that define this event sponsored by Diputación de Jaén. Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale’s Bastien Tronchon and Visma | Lease a Bike’s Jan Tratnik and rounded out the podium.
97 riders took the start on the third edition of the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior, held over a 158,3-kilometre course between the cities of Baeza and Úbeda, both listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The race began in demanding fashion as the breakaway took more than an hour for to go clear.
It was 50 kilometres into the race that Igor Arrieta (UAE Team Emirates), Nicolas Prodhomme (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale), Oier Lazkano (Movistar Team), Jefferson Cepeda (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Alex Molenaar (Illes Balears-Arabay) went up to the road. Their maximum gap on the Visma-led bunch was clocked at 5’00” with 68 kilometres to go.
Molenaar was dropped from the leading group right before the first Camino de Olivos, Cruz de Jaboneros (km 103; 3,7 km), where Cepeda also lost ground. Meanwhile, on this same spot, Visma-Lease a Bike’s leader Wout van Aert suffered a puncture and his team ceased leading the chase, with Ineos Grenadiers taking over shortly after.
With 40 kilometres left to race, Arrieta got also dropped from the breakaway. The two riders remaining at the front, Lazkano and Prodhomme, bore a 3’30” gap on a bunch that had been reduced to just 20 riders. There was less and less daylight between the duo and the favorites group as the chasers sped up in the Caminos de Olivos of Santa Eulalia (km 129,5; 2,3 km) and Guadalupe (km 132,6; 6,2 km), where Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers) fell out of contention due to a mechanical.
The gap was down to 1’00” at the start of the final Camino de Olivos, Virgen de la Salud (km 143; 5,7 km). It was there that Lazkano dropped Prodhomme for good with 13 kilometres to go. Meanwhile, a four-strong group formed just behind the Movistar rider with Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates), Bastien Tronchon (Decathlon Ag2r La Mondiale), Sepp Kuss and Jan Tratnik (Visma-Lease a Bike).
At the end of the gravel sector, with 10 kilometres to go, there were just 40” between Lazkano and his chasers. The Movistar rider displayed yet another exhibition of his power in the closing stages of the race to secure the win. Meanwhile, in the sprint for the remaining podium positions, Tronchon and Tratnik came away with second and third place in the final standings.
Oier Lazkano (Movistar Team): “The break went away after nearly 50 kilometres and lots of attempts, and that meant it could go places. The peloton was very strong, though, and we had to work very hard to keep it at bay. It’s my first win of the year. Even though every victory feels good, this one in the Spanish national champion jersey on Spanish soil tastes particularly well. I’m very proud of how I’ve worked during these last few months, and happy that it turns out so well. I just hope someday I will get a victory in a simpler way than with a long-range break … yet winning is never easy.”