Giacomo Nizzolo wins Clásica de Almería

A fraught, crash-marred finale in strong crosswinds in the Clásica de Alméria could not prevent Italian sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo from claiming Qhubeka-Assos' first victory of 2021 with a finely calculated, devastating late acceleration for the finish.

Despite losing sprinter Alvaro Hodeg to a crash and Mark Cavendish then also reportedly suffering a mechanical, the remainder of the Belgian Deceuninck-Quick Step squad kept a much-challenged but consistently firm grip on the closing kilometres of the windswept Clásica, all the while retaining solid options on victory in the shape of one-day specialist Florian Senéchál.

But all the Belgian team's hard work and Senéchál's strong lead-out in the last 200 metres in the coastal finish town in Roquetas del Mar proved powerless when facing Nizzolo's ferocious final dash for the line. 

Even though the 32-year-old Italian had opted to get past Sénéchal on the longer side of the right-hand curve leading immediately onto the finish line on the broad boulevard of Avenida Juan Carlos I, Nizzolo still had the power to finish well over a bike length ahead, with Bora-Hansgrohe's Martin Laas in third.

"I never expected to start this season so well, so I'm very pleased," Nizzolo said afterwards, "it was a tricky finish, quite stressful and a bit technical in parts, and what made it really hard was the wind."

"But I got great support from my teammates when I needed it and this shows I'm in good form for the Classics too, which are my big goals of the first part of the season."

Fourth and third in bunch sprints in the Etoile de Besseges showed promising form for the 32-year-old Italian and Almería is his first victory, too since he took both the European Road-Race and the Italian National Championships in the space of a few days last year.

However, Nizzolo abandoned the Tour de France last year with a knee injury but in just his second event since last summer the Italian is clearly back on track.

Despite its hilly first half and a strong early break, hard work by UAE Team Emirates, Deceuninck-Quick Step and the Astana Pro Team further raised already high odds that the 34th edition of the 183 kilometre Clásica would come down a bunch sprint.

Locally-born veteran Luis Angel Maté made his first outing with his new 2021 team Euskaltel-Euskadi a memorable one by securing the King of the Mountains title on the race's biggest climb, the second category Alto de Celin.

But for all the Lynx of Marbella, as he is nicknamed, with Robbe Ghys (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Alex Molenaar (Burgos-BH), Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Oier Lazkano (Caja-Rural) and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segafredo) collectively attempted to push their advantage out on the early series of ascents, their advantage never rose above four minutes.

The six were reeled by the halfway point of the 183 kilometre Clasica as the route headed back to the Mediterranean coastline. And the break which substituted them, comprising Savva Novikov (Kern Pharma), 2019 Vuelta a España stage winner Angel Madrazo (Burgos - BH), Samuele Rivi (Eolo Kometo and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF) could barely gain a minute's advantage before Astana, Bora-Hansgrohe and Cofidis began pegging them back again.

An uneasy half-hour truce that followed as the peloton ground through the never-ending 'sea' of plastic greenhouses in Almeria's coastal hinterland was suddenly broken when the race entered exposed terrain with around 30 kilometres to go.

A wave of the arm by Tim Declercq was enough for Deceuninck-Quick Step to unleash hostilities, with support from fellow-Belgian squad Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles seeing the two squads attempt to split, or at the very least reduce an overly large peloton in size, in the gusting crosswinds. But even as Deceuninck were upping the pace, a series of crashes in the middle of the pack, one involving Hodeg, saw the peloton shrink even more. 

Despite the difficulties in controlling the peloton on a circuit with more than its fair share of road furniture, the Belgians' solid efforts, combined with some more limited assistance from AG2R-Citroen and Bora-Hansgrohe also ensured that there were no further breakaways. On top of that one key rival sprinter, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was left out of the running because of a mechanical.

Then in the fraught closing kilometre, Deceuninck-Quick Step did their utmost to press home their advantage with Sénéchal. However, Nizzolo's late surge proved too powerful for any of his rivals and the Frenchman had to settle for second.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos 4:18:44
2Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
3Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe
4Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB
6Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
7Gabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Movistar Team
8Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
10Imerio Cima (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
11Marco Canola (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
12Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
13Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
14Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
15Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
16Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
17Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
18Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
19Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Burgos-BH
20Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling
21Umberto Marengo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
22Mikel Aristi Gardoki (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
23Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal WB
24Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team
25Manuel Belletti (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
26Attilio Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
27Pier Andre Cote (Can) Rally Cycling
28Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
29Jetse Bol (Ned) Burgos-BH
30Nickolas Zukowsky (Can) Rally Cycling
31Daniel Savini (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
32Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
33Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
34Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
35Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates
36Alex Jaime Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
37Savva Novikov (Rus) Equipo Kern Pharma
38Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
39Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
40Julen Irizar Laskurain (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
41Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
42Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie
43Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
44Gonzalo Serrano (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:09
45Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:11
46Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
47Antonio Jesus Soto Guirao (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
48Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
49Petr Rikunov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
50Sergei Chernetskii (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
51Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
52Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
53Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
54Javier Romo Oliver (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
55Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
56Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
57Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
58Diego Rubio Hernandez (Spa) Burgos-BH
59Juri Hollmann (Ger) Movistar Team
60Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
61Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
62Anthony Jullien (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
63Diego Lopez Fuentes (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
64Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
65Joseph Rosskopf (USA) Rally Cycling
66Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:19
67Sean Bennett (USA) Team Qhubeka Assos
68Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) Total Direct Energie 0:00:24
69Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
70Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
71Xabier Mikel Azparren Irurzun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
72Mattia Frapporti (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
73Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
74Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange
75Emil Vinjebo (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:00:29
76Carlos Barbero (Spa) Team Qhubeka Assos
77Michael Hepburn (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:00:35
78Callum Scotson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
79Jannik Steimle (Ger) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:38
80Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
81Nathan Haas (Aus) Cofidis 0:00:42
82Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
83Jon Irisarri Ricon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
84Christopher Lawless (GBr) Total Direct Energie
85Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:45
86Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:47
87Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
88Dion Smith (NZl) Team BikeExchange 0:00:58
89Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
90Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
91Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie 0:01:10
92Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:01:12
93Jack Bauer (NZl) Team BikeExchange
94Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:36
95Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team
96Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
97Tom Paquot (Bel) Bingoal WB
98Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
99Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
100André Carvalho (Por) Cofidis
101Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:42
102Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:01:47
103Alex Colman (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:02:01
104Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
105Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
106Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
107Alexander Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo
108Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:02:04
109John Archibald (GBr) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 0:02:12
110Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 0:03:41
111Alvaro Cuadros Morata (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:03:54
112Hector Saez Benito (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
113Victor Lafay (Fra) Cofidis
114Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cofidis
115Kenny De Ketele (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
116Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
117Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal WB
118Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:04:35
119Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Burgos-BH
120David Gonzalez Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
121Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
122Carlos Garcia Pierna (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
123Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
124Jose Felix Parra Cuerda (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
125Laurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal WB 0:05:32
126Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB
127Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally Cycling
128Nathan Brown (USA) Rally Cycling
129Davide Bais (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
130Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
131Antonio Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
132Alex Molenaar (Ned) Burgos-BH
133Dmitrii Strakhov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
134Ivo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:07:06
135Boris Vallee (Bel) Bingoal WB 0:08:57
136Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis 0:11:36
137Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:12:36
138Mikel Alonso Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:13:26
139Luca Pacioni (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 0:13:56
140Ibon Ruiz Sedano (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
141Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:14:16
142Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:14:31
143Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
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Mountain 1 - Alto de Celin (Cat. 2), km. 49.5
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6
2Alex Molenaar (Ned) Burgos-BH 4
3Davide Bais (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 2
4Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 1
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Mountain 2 - Alto de la Alqueria (Cat. 3) km. 76.60
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 4
2Davide Bais (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 2
3Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri) Trek-Segafredo 1
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Mountain 3 - Alto Fuente Marbella (Cat. 3) km. 84.50
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 4
2Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 2
3Davide Bais (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 1
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Mountain 4 - Cuesta de Almerimar (Cat. 4), km. 131.60
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 3
2Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 2
3Ibon Ruiz Sedano (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma 1
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Sprint 1 - Roquetas, km. 153.70
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 3
2Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 2
3Ibon Ruiz Sedano (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma 1
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Sprint 2 - San Agustin, km. 17.40
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 3
2Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2
3Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 1
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Sprint 3 - Adra, km. 71.50
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 3
2Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2
3Davide Bais (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 1
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Sprint 4 - Balanegra, km. 114.80
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 3
2Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 2
3Ibon Ruiz Sedano (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma 1
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Mountains classification
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 14
2Davide Bais (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 5
3Alex Molenaar (Ned) Burgos-BH 4
4Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 3
5Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 2
6Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 2
7Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 1
8Ibon Ruiz Sedano (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma 1
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Sprints classification
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 6
2Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 6
3Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 4
4Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 4
5Ibon Ruiz Sedano (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma 2
6Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 1
7Davide Bais (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 1
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Regional riders classification
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
2Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
3Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) Total Direct Energie
4Alvaro Cuadros Morata (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
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Teams classification
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1AG2R Citroën Team 12:56:12
2Bardiani CSF Faizane'
3Rally Cycling
4Euskaltel-Euskadi
5Astana-Premier Tech
6Gazprom-RusVelo 0:00:11
7UAE Team Emirates
8Burgos-BH
9Equipo Kern Pharma
10Team Qhubeka Assos 0:00:19
11Movistar Team 0:00:20
12Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:24
13Total Direct Energie
14Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 0:00:35
15Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:38
16Trek-Segafredo 0:00:57
17Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:00:58
18Team BikeExchange 0:00:59
19Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:01:09
20Cofidis 0:01:24
21Bingoal WB 0:01:36
22Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:04:36

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