Astana continue winning streak at Ruta del Sol

Jakob Fuglsang has continued Astana's spectacular start to 2019 as he racked up the team's sixth stage race win of the season in the Ruta del Sol on Sunday, taking their 11th victory of the year.

Fuglsang did not win a stage in the Ruta del Sol but his consistent placings throughout an event, which is considered the toughest early-season race on the European calendar, placed the Dane on top of the overall ranking.

Second at Alcala de los Gazules summit finish on stage 1 and second again in the stage 3 time trial, keeped Fuglsang snapping at the heels of the early race leader Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal). Then Astana collectively acted as the springboard that Fuglsang needed to claim his first stage race victory since the 2017 Critérium du Dauphiné. Their ferociously strong team-work isolated the Belgian on the crunch mountain stage 4 through the Sierra Nevada on Saturday.

Fugslang himself ensured the gap widened enormously on the long, brutally difficult ascent to Hazallanas. But he paid tribute to his teammates' hard work at Granada and again after the final stage to Alhaurin de la Torre on Sunday.

"I'm super happy," said Fugslang afterwards, 17th on what was a fast and furious final stage of the Ruta del Sol, won by Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott).

"My teammates did a lot of work today from the beginning because we really didn't want to let this one slip away.

"Bahrain-Merida helped us control the break of the day, along with Movistar, and as predicted it ended in a sprint. But it was very tough with the crosswind."

11 victories win two weeks

Astana have now racked up eleven individual wins and six stage races in three different continents so far in 2019, all in the space of just two weeks.

Ion Izagirre, himself second overall, behind Fuglsang in Andalucia, set the ball rolling with the overall victory in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, and then last week a further three victories were amassed by Astana in the Vuelta a Murcia in Spain, Tour Colombia and Tour de La Provence in France.

Alexey Lutsenko then added to Astana's total with no less than three stage wins and the overall in the Tour of Oman, whilst Fugslang continued the good work in Andalucia on Sunday.

Last year at this point in the season, Astana had amassed a more than respectable six wins of their final total of 31, starting in the Vuelta a Murcia, then a one day race, again with Luis León Sánchez, to the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with Michael Valgren. This year they have already nearly doubled the total.

Rather than one or two  riders being in good form, Astana's 2019 victories have come from seven different pros: Ion Izagirre and his brother Gorka - in La Provence - the Vuelta a Murcia for Luis León Sanchez and Pello Bilbao and the Tour Colombia with Miguel Angel López. 

They are showing remarkable strength across the team.

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