Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) secured overall victory at the Vuelta a Burgos in northern Spain on Saturday as João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) won the final stage on the testing 12km uphill finish to Lagunas de Neila.
Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) tried a solo attack on the 6.2% climb to the finish but Ineos Grenadiers chased him down. They also chased an attack by Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan) with 2.5km to go, with Carlos Rodríguez working hard to protect Sivakov’s lead.
Almeida rode his own pace on the climb and managed to catch Sivakov, Lopez and Rodríguez in the final kilometre. He then surged to the line, beating Lopez.
Sivakov finished a few bike lengths back but was assured of overall victory. Almeida’s stage victory lifted him to second overall at 35 seconds, with López third, also at 35 seconds.
“It’s a special win as the last few months have been difficult, I haven’t been feeling too good on the bike and struggled to find my form,” Almeida said after his first stage race since quitting the Giro d’Italia with COVID-19.
“This week has been important as I’ve been riding my way into the week and today I felt good and attacked and took a win. The next goal is the Vuelta España in two weeks so I’m going there now with added confidence from today. Now I’ll rest up a bit, do the last training sessions and try and be ready for La Vuelta. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The final stage was all about control for Ineos Grenadiers. The peloton closed down a break of 17 riders but the trio of Jetse Bol (Team DSM), Carlos Canal (Euskaltel - Euskadi) and Marco Frigo (Israel-Premier Tech) were given their freedom and opened a 4:00 lead.
The three stayed away to the foot of the Lagunas de Neila, with Canal bravely trying a solo attack but it was Frigo who would last the longest out front. Juanpe López (Trek-Segafredo) and then Harper tried to anticipate the Ineos-lead peloton but were both brought to heel the British SUV team.
López jumped when Harper was caught with 2.5km to go but he was also kept in check by a superb Rodríguez, who seemed strong enough to win the stage. However he loyally rode for Sivakov and ensured Ineos Grenadiers celebrated their second stage win of the week after Ethan Hayter won the Tour de Pologne.
Sivakov secured overall victory with a strong ride all week and after his second place at the Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa. He attacked over the Pico Blanco climb on stage 3, and worked hard to stay away with Bastien Tronchon (AG2R Citroën) who won the stage. Sivakov gained 28 seconds on his biggest rivals and then was able to defend the red and purple leader’s jersey for the rest of the race.
It was the 25-year-old’s first stage win for three years after a series of injuries and crashes but he now seems back to his best as he prepares to ride the Vuelta a Espana alongside Richard Carapaz and perhaps Ethan Hayter and Tao Geoghegan Hart.
“I’m very happy. I didn't think I would win, even though I knew I was in excellent condition,” Sivakov said after the podium ceremony. “It’s been a long time since I won, so for me it is a great satisfaction and gives me a lot of confidence. I needed this.
“I don't yet know the final selection for the Vuelta, which should be made next week by the team. We’ll see if I’m part of it, otherwise we will talk about what my calendar will include.”
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