Omar Fraile picked up his second win in Astana team colours on Wednesday after claiming a surprise victory on stage 1 of the Tour of Romandie. The Spaniard out-foxed and out-kicked Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) in the reduced-bunch sprint to win and extend Astana’s season tally to 14 races.
“This morning, I said to be myself that I was going to try. I knew that. It was always going to come down to a small group. It’s possible to win from there and Lotto Jumbo set a good pace on the final climb that helped drop all the main sprinters. That created the chance for me,” Fraile told Cyclingnews as he left his post-stage press conference.
The 28-year-old moved to Astana from Dimension Data over the winter, and after a relatively quiet start to life on the Kazakh team, he came to life with a strong second place on the final stage at Paris-Nice. He followed that up with a stage win at the Tour of the Basque Country after being in a decisive break.
His win in Romandie owed as much to Astana’s clear strength in depth as it did to Fraile’s skill. Dario Cataldo was instrumental in nullifying the opposition, and with three other teammates in the lead group, Fraile was one of the most protected riders ahead of the sprint.
“In the finish I could see that Colbrelli had lost about a metre on me. Then it was two metres, and as I came to the line I could sense that I was going to win with a small advantage. In the last few kilometres there were lots of attacks and I could see that he was closing a lot of the gaps. I was just trying to follow and follow, and my team did an amazing job,” Fraile added.
Astana were a team facing financial uncertainly at the start of the year after questions were raised over their budgets, but their on-bike performances have been nothing short of exceptional. At the recent Tour of the Alps they won three stages, while Amstel Gold and Het Nieuwsblad have also been added to their win list this season.
"It’s been a good moment and it’s one that I’m enjoying. I had a great winter and the team are putting in great performances,” Fraile added. "Each win gives us new motivation. We try to win every race, and we go into each one thinking that we can win.”
Fraile’s role will now turn towards helping his teammate Jakob Fuglsang, who is targeting the overall classification.