The 26-year-old from Cuenca triumphed out of a late skirmish of five riders in which he was accompanied by teammate Alejandro Valverde, Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Lluís Mas (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Jesús Ezquerra (Sporting-Tavira).
Herrada took off from the group inside the final kilometre and went solo to net the second Spanish crown of his career after the one he collected in 2013.
Behind, Valverde controlled Izagirre and sprinted to the finish line to grab the silver medal, while the Basque rider had to settle for bronze.
How it unfolded
Not that long ago, the Spanish National Championship Road Race was a real contest. Several World Tour teams in Spain fought for the victory, and a number of Professional and Continental outfits contended and were able to make a difference or, at least, have an impact on the outcome of the race.
Nowadays, Movistar Team is the sole World Tour squad around, with the remarkably weaker Caja Rural - Seguros RGA being the only Professional one. Every year, the blue riders are majority and set the pace, while the green counterparts try to answer to their tactics and the rest of the bunch attacks with no hope of succeeding or just follows wheels waiting to scrape a medal or a top10 placing.
"Now it seems like our victory here is a foregone conclusion," says Movistar Team's Technical Director Alfonso Galilea, "and that puts a huge deal of pressure on our shoulders. But, believe me, it is not easy to race against a whole field yearning to see us lose."
Movistar Team hasn't known defeat in the race since 2009, when Rubén Plaza (then riding for Liberty Seguros) climbed faster than Alejandro Valverde up the hill leading to the Cueva del Soplao. As long as the landscape doesn't change dramatically with a brand new top-tier outfit arising in Spain, it seems unlikely that Movistar will give up their grip on Spanish nationals in the coming years.
Orica-Scott's Carlos Verona was the first to attack today. His move was immediately followed by more than 20 cyclists. Four of them were Movistar Team members who refused to take turns on the front as their teammates led the bunch behind. One was Mikel Landa (Team Sky), very active throughout the race, who eventually decided to stop and rejoin the bunch as he saw the move was bound to be aborted sooner or later. Several riders followed their example and the breakaway slimmed down to 10 units.
Iván García Cortina (Bahrain-Merida) featured in the breakaway and ended up upset about the development of the race. "With the Movistar riders drifting in the back of the group, it was impossible to cooperate," he said. Cortina went as far as to take off and engage on a solo breakaway that was interrupted by his DS, who asked him to stop and save energy in order to help teammate Ion Izagirre on his bid to reclaim a title that he had already won in 2014.
After 80 up-and-down kilometres, the race made it to the final circuit where the riders were to give six laps. Its 20 kilometres featured several hills and a guest no one initially counted on with: the wind.
As Movistar Team shut down the breakaway with two laps to go, Caja Rural tried to take advantage of this wind to tear the peloton down to pieces. Lluís Mas did a remarkable effort to up the pace that was echoed by the full Movistar Team. In the end, a 30-strong group formed with a clear majority of blue riders inside.
From then on, it was a matter of time until the right move for Movistar Team happened. It was Alejandro Valverde the one to make the decisive acceleration with 7 kilometres to go. Only his teammate Jesús Herrada, Ion Izagirre, Lluís Mas and Jesús Ezquerra (Sporting-Tavira) could follow him.
The rider from Murcia, by far the strongest cyclist today, considered that was an adequate group and decided to bring it to the finish line. "Alejandro has controlled the closing kiometres in amazing fashion," Herrada explained in the aftermath. "He took the responsibility of dragging the group to the bottom of the climb. I only had to sit on his wheel and save energy for my winning attack."
Herrada's acceleration couldn't be matched by anyone. He raised his arms in celebration as he crossed the finish line, and so did Valverde a few seconds later, notoriously happy after having handed the red-and-yellow jersey to his teammate.
Jesús Herrada is one of the most underrated talents of the Spanish peloton. Always regarded as a potential winner for almost every tough race he contested in thanks to his overall strength, his exceptional resilience and a nice kick when it came down to sprinting, in the last years he has used his engine to the service of the team rather than to look for his own results.
This week, several rumours have been whispered about the future of the 26-year-old rider from Cuenca and his brother José. Movistar Team is said to be willing to extend the former's contract, but not the latter's. "Our priority right now is to renew both contracts with Movistar Team before listening to the offers coming from elsewhere," Juan Campos, agent of the Herrada brothers, told Cyclingnews in the aftermath of the victory of his client.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jesús Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team||5:08:45|
|2||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:05|
|3||Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida||0:00:06|
|4||Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:11|
|5||Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team|
|6||Eduard Prades (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|7||Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky||0:00:15|
|8||Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:20|
|9||Oscar Hernandez (Spa) Louletano||0:00:22|
|10||Sergio Rodriguez (Spa) Fundación Euskadi||0:00:25|
|11||Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team|
|12||Angel Madrazo (Spa) Delko Marseille Provence KTM|
|13||Beñat Txoperena (Spa) Euskadi Murias|
|14||Jesus Ezquerra (Spa) Tavira Sporting|
|15||Mikel Iturria (Spa) Euskadi Murias||0:00:28|
|16||Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida|
|17||Oscar Pujol (Spa) Team Ukyo|
|18||Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin||0:00:42|
|19||Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team|
|20||Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team|
|21||Luis Mas (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|22||Juanjo Aguero (Spa) Aldro|
|23||Gonzalo Serrano (Spa) Club Ciclista Urbasa - Caja Rural||0:01:06|
|24||Diego Rubio (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||0:01:17|
|25||Victor De La Parte (Spa) Movistar Team||0:01:30|
|26||Jon Irisarri (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||0:01:41|
|27||Antonio Molina (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||0:02:24|
|28||Noel Martin (Spa) Kuota C. Paulino||0:03:28|
|29||Francisco Garcia (Spa) Gsport Val. Wolfbike|
|30||Antonio J. Soto (Spa) Lizarte|
|31||Benjamin Prades (Spa) Team Ukyo|
|32||David De La Fuente (Spa) Louletano|
|33||Juan A. Lopez-Cozar (Spa) Fundación Euskadi|
|34||Pablo Torres (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|35||Iñaki Gozalbez (Spa) Mutua Levante|
|36||Pedro Merino (Spa) Supermerc. Froiz|
|37||Oscar Rodriguez (Spa) Euskadi Murias|
|38||Oscar Pelegri (Spa) Club Ciclista Urbasa - Caja Rural|
|39||Daniel Dominguez (Spa) Key Look|
|40||Ibai Salas (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|41||Iker Azkarate (Spa) Club Ciclista Urbasa - Caja Rural|
|42||Antonio Angulo (Spa) La Alum. Metalusa|
|43||Jose M. Gutierrez (Spa) Kuwait Cartucho.Es|
|44||Carlos A. Jimenez (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|45||Raul Garcia De Mateos (Spa) Alumin. Cortizo|
|46||Manuel Jimenez (Spa) Controlpack||0:03:37|
|47||Martinez D.M. Raul (Spa) Hostal Latorre||0:03:41|
|48||Rafael Marquez (Spa) Inteja Dominicana C.T.|
|49||Daniel Sanchez (Spa) Radio Pop. Boavista||0:03:44|
|50||José Manuel Díaz (Spa) Israel Cycling Academy|
|51||Sergio Casanova (Spa) Un Natural Greatness|
|52||Juan Perez (Spa) W52/FC Porto|
|53||Gabriel Reguero (Spa) Differdange Losch|
|54||Salvador Guardiola (Spa) Team Ukyo|
|55||Ismael Barba (Spa) Supermerc. Froiz|
|56||Oscar Cabedo (Spa) Escribano Sports T.||0:03:52|
|57||Alvaro Trueba (Spa) Efapel|
|58||Mikel Aristi (Spa) Delko Marseille Provence KTM|
|59||Jose Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team||0:03:54|
|60||Jonathan Lastra (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||0:03:58|
|61||Albert Torres (Spa) Inteja Dominicana C.T.||0:04:05|
|62||Jesus Alberto Rubio (Spa) Inteja Dominicana C.T.|
|63||Bernat Font (Spa) Gsport Val. Wolfbike|
|64||Julio Amores (Spa) Inteja Dominicana C.T.||0:04:29|
|65||Javier Megias (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk|
|66||Llibert Senchoss (Spa) Kolss Cycling Team|
|67||Ivan Martinez (Spa) Gsport Val. Wolfbike|
|68||Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team|
|69||Víctor Etxeberria (Spa) Radio Pop. Boavista|
|70||Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|71||Jokin Etxabe (Spa) Aevollo Pro||0:04:36|
|72||Carlos Verona (Spa) Orica-Scott||0:04:54|
|73||Marcos Garcia (Spa) Kinan Cycling T.|
|74||Ion Insausti (Spa) Bahrain-Merida|
|75||Egoitz Fernandez (Spa) Team Ukyo|
|76||Mikel Elorza (Spa) Amore & Vita|
|77||Miguel Benito (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|78||Aritz Bagues (Spa) Euskadi Murias|
|79||Jorge Arcas Peña (Spa) Movistar Team||0:05:01|
|80||Miguel Llaneza (Spa) Kuota C. Paulino||0:05:07|
|81||Miguel Gomez (Spa) Supermerc. Froiz|
|82||Manuel Sola (Spa) Club Ciclista Urbasa - Caja Rural||0:05:13|
|83||Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Hangar 15 Bicycles|
|84||Jorge Cubero (Spa) Burgos-BH||0:05:19|
|85||Jesus Montero (Spa) Bicic. Rodriguez Extrem.|
|86||Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskadi Murias||0:05:34|
|87||David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||0:05:40|
|88||Angel Gutierrez (Spa) Ec Cartucho – Magro||0:06:07|
|89||Iñigo Ojeda (Spa) Telco’M Q. Step||0:06:13|
|90||Mikel Bizkarra (Spa) Euskadi Murias||0:07:26|
|91||Victor Martinez (Spa) Controlpack||0:08:07|
|92||Jesus Merino (Spa) Supermerc. Froiz|
|93||Oscar Linares (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|94||Jaime Roson (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|95||Mikel Ezkieta (Spa) Lizarte|
|96||Gotzon Udondo (Spa) Euskadi Murias|
|97||Marcos Jurado (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|98||Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team|
|99||Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga (Spa) Lizarte|
|100||Adrian Gonzalez (Spa) Euskadi Murias||0:13:07|
|101||Alvaro Robredo (Spa) Burgos-BH||0:13:51|
|102||Beñat Etxabe (Spa) Gomur Liebana 2017|
|103||Jacobo Ucha (Spa) W52/FC Porto||0:15:40|