11 months after a crash in a rain-slick roundabout at the Giro d'Italia that nearly ended his career, Angel Vicioso (Katusha) stood victorious atop the podium of the GP Miguel Indurain, breaking a Movistar juggernaut on the Alto de Muru and soloing to his first win since 2011.
Vicioso was one of several victims of a treacherous finale to stage 6 of the 2014 Giro d'Italia in Montecassino, suffering a triple fracture to his right femur that required a 3.5-hour long operation to repair. It was never certain if Vicioso would be able to return to competition and even more questionable if he could attain his previous level.
Signs pointed to yes when the Spaniard finished 12th in the Strade Bianche, but the victory came as a pleasant surprise a bit more than a week from his 38th birthday.
"I am so happy! Especially after my crash last year, which I thought would end my career," he said. "Also, I am happy with this victory, because I really like this route. I take part in this race for the fourth time in a row and I was always good here."
"For me this is my first victory in 4 years, my debut win for Team Katusha, and I am really happy to bring it to my team," he said. "Today I was lucky and my family was here to support me. I am happy I was able to win in front of their eyes."
Vicioso was part of a three-rider lead group on the final ascent, with Movistar duo Beñat Intxausti and Ion Izagirre, but the Katusha rider proved to be the cagiest.
"Vicioso was the smartest guy today. We may have thought we could to better, through we knew Vicioso was fast into such a finish, and it's possible that we played sort of a 'lead-out' for him in the end," Izagirre said.