Luis León Sánchez claims first Spanish road race title

After settling for silver and bronze medals in the past, Luis León Sánchez (Astana) claimed his first national road race title on Sunday with a thrilling victory at the Spanish Championships. 

"I am so happy to win the title of the national champion in the road race. After many attempts and podium places, finally, I did it!" Sánchez said. "It is a great feeling to become the National Champion and I will be proud and happy to wear the jersey of the Spanish Champion during the next year all around the world."

The 36-year-old, who was runner-up last year and third in 2013, clinched the medal and jersey after tracking down Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) in the last few kilometres and passing him 400 metres from the line. 

Herrada then suffered a mechanical on the technical cobbled run-in, which, although the gold medal appeared to have disappeared, took away a podium finish. The two-time champion suffered the ignominy of having to walk to the line while several others rolled past him, with Gorka Izagirre making it a 1-2 for Astana, and Vicente García de Mateos (Aviludo-Louletano) claiming the final podium spot. 

As Sánchez burst into tears beyond the line, Herrada looked shell-shocked as he walked across the line then hunched over his bike in disbelief. He looked to be well on his way to a third title when he launched a stinging attack on the fifth and final climb of Mazuecos, the centrepiece of the 25-kilometre circuit that made up much of the 185km route. 

The race had been reduced to 30 riders by the bottom of the 8km climb and after a spate of attacks, including fellow Cofidis rider Fernando Barceló, Herrada soared clear with 4km to go. It looked to be the winning move but Sánchez was able to lean on teammate Izagirre before setting off in pursuit at the top of the climb with 2.5km to go. 

Despite Herrada's impressive attack, the tables turned on the run-in, as Sánchez, grinding a huge gear, stalked his prey, who was frantically pedalling at a much higher cadence amid worried looks back. 

Sánchez made the catch inside the final kilometre before accelerating away inside 500m to create a little daylight for the last twisting, cobbled corners. He then sprang up to sprint for the line, as Herrada looked down at his gears and realised they were jammed. It probably didn't affect the destination of the gold medal, as Sánchez's power in the finale appeared decisive, but it did cost him a medal, and even a place in the top 10.

"It was a very hard race, difficult to control with a lot of attacks. I was staying in the group, waiting and waiting for the best moment," Sánchez said. "When Jesus Herrada went away, I decided to follow him. Once I caught him, I waited until some 500-600 meters to go and gave my all to the finish line."

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 4:24:20
2Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15
3Vicente Garcia de Mateos Rubio (Spa) Aviludo-Louletano
4Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:22
5Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6Fernando Barcelo Aragon (Spa) Cofidis 0:00:24
7Urko Berrade Fernandez (Spa) Kern Pharma
8Diego Rubio Hernandez (Spa) Burgos-BH 0:00:27
9Samuel Blanco (Spa) Supermarcado Froiz 0:00:32
10Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Spa) W52-FC Porto 0:00:39
11Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Kern Pharma 0:00:48
12Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:00:55
13Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Team Medellin
14Ander Okamika (Spa) 0:00:58
15Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis 0:01:00
16Sergio Samitier Samitier (Spa) Movistar Team
17Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:01:15
18Miguel Ballesteros (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:01:18
19Jose Manuel Diaz Gallego (Spa) Nippo Delko Provence
20Alberto Gallego (Spa) Radio Popular-Boavista 0:01:21
21David Valero (Spa) MMR Factory Racing Team 0:01:24
22Gotzon Martin Sanz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
23Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Israel Start-up Nation
24Angel Sanchez (Spa) Miranda - Mortagua 0:01:43
25Juan Lopez-Cozar (Spa) Manuela Fundacion 0:01:53
26Antonio Angulo Sampedro (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:02:19
27Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis 0:02:21
28Jaime Castrillo (Spa) Kern Pharma
29Victor Etxeberria (Spa) Vigo-rias Baixas
30Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:02:26
31Joan bou Company (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:02:42
32Carlos Gutierrez (Spa) Aluminios Cortizo 0:02:58
33Marcos Garcia Fernandez (Spa) Kinan 0:03:41
34Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) Team Ineos 0:04:10
35Oscar Cabedo Carda (Spa) Burgos-BH 0:04:43
36Joel Nicolau Beltran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:05:11
37Sergio Martin (Spa) Caja Rural-seguros RGA
38Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis 0:06:23
39Alejandro Ropero Molina (Spa) Kometa Xstra
40Oscar Pelegri Ferrandis (Spa) Feirense 0:06:59
41Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Matrix Powertag 0:07:25
42Thomas James Armstrong (Spa) Telco.m - on Clima - Oses 0:09:33
43Javier Hernandez (Spa) Gomur - Cantabria Infinita 0:09:39
44Jose m. Gutierrez (Spa) Gios - Kiwi Atlantico 0:09:42
45Gabriel Reguero Corral (Spa) Bahrain Cycling Academy
46Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Burgos-BH 0:10:10
47Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team 0:10:12
48Kevin Suarez (Spa) Nesta - Skoda Alecar CX Team
49Ivan Moreno (Spa) Kern Pharma
50Antonio Gomez (Spa) Manuela Fundacion 0:10:12
51Raul Garcia (Spa) Aluminios Cortizo 0:10:30
52Abel Alonso (Spa) Ciudad de Oviedo Tartiere 0:11:16
53Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:11:30
54Francisco Rus (Spa) Aluminios Cortizo 0:12:31
55Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:12:32
56Sebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Movistar Team
57Ibon Ruiz (Spa) Kern Pharma
58Antonio Canovas (Spa) Brocoli Mecanico-Sakata C. 0:12:34
59Miguel a. Silva (Spa) Gsport Team
60Julen Amezqueta Moreno (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
61Aritz Bagües (Spa) Caja Rural-seguros RGA 0:12:39
62Ivan Martinez (Spa) Supermercados Froiz 0:12:58
63Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
64Txomin Juaristi Arrieta (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
65Daniel de la Fe (Spa) Tenerife Bike Point Pizzeria 0:13:27
66Jorge Bueno (Spa) Telco.m - on Clima - Oses 0:13:28
67Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Burgos-BH 0:13:35
68Eric Valiente Bonafe (Spa) Bahrain Cycling Academy 0:13:55
69Noel Martin (Spa) Vigo-rias Baixas
70David Gomez (Spa) Antiga Casa Bellsola-girona
71Angel Fuentes Paniego (Spa) Burgos-BH
72Pablo Guerrero (Spa) Burgos BH 0:15:10
73Carlos Canal Blanco (Spa) Burgos-BH 0:14:50
74Isaac Canton Serrano (Spa) Burgos-BH 0:15:47
75Javier Gil (Spa) Netllar Telecom-ale
76Gonzalo Fuentes (Spa) Netllar Telecom-ale 0:17:08
77Felipe Orts (Spa) Gsport Team 0:17:12
78Mauro Rato (Spa) Ciudad de Oviedo Tartiere Aut
79Jon Irisarri Ricon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:17:31
80Hector and Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team 0:19:33
81Jesus del Pino Corrochano (Spa) Aviludo-louletano
OTLPablo Alonso (Spa) Gomur - Cantabria Infinita 0:21:37
OTLJon Agirre (Spa) Kern Pharma 0:22:38

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