Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) claimed his first Grand Tour stage victory in the Vuelta a Espana on Wednesday, attacking out of the day's successful breakaway to climb to the win on the brutal ascent of the Ermita Santa Lucía on stage 5.
Lutsenko gushed in Italian after the finish, "I'm super, super happy!", clearly an understatement considering how often his attacks have been fruitless.
The Kazakh has been in numerous breakaways, including two in the Tour de France, the first of which on stage 9 saw him crash out of the leading group and then finish stage with his kit in tatters. He tried again on the stage to the top of the Izoard only to be caught and dropped on the final climb.
There was no catching Lutsenko in the Vuelta, however, as he distanced his companions then stomped up the climb to victory.
"I pushed so hard on the pedals the entire day, and in the final I gave everything I had on the final climb," he said. "I prepared very cautiously this Vuelta, after my bad fall at the Tour de France I wanted to demonstrate what I can really do."
The 4km final ascent was classified as category 3, but had pitches up to 16 per cent in places, and the severity of the climb caused cracks to form even among the overall contenders. Lutsenko was undaunted, even if he doesn't consider himself a climber, per se.
"The final climb was not long but I'm not a climber so I wanted to start it all alone at the front, and for this reason I attacked immediately before the climb," he said. "It has been a very great day!"
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