Jesse Anthony captured the Special Sprint classification in the Grand Premio Miguel Indurain Saturday to build on the successful spring Europe campaign for Optum p/b KBS.
Here is the race report from Jonas Carney on Anthony’s efforts:
Saturday was the Grand Premio Miguel Indurain, a 1.1 UCI event, with many of the top World Tour teams and Pro Continental teams in the world.
Grand Premio Miguel Indurain was 181k on a very difficult and technical course. The course included one category 1 climb, five category 2 climbs, with a finish line at the top of a steep 1-kilometer long climb. While we have a couple of climbers in Spain, the course did not suit many of the riders we brought for this trip. Our main focus was Sunday’s Vuelta a la Rioja, which normally ends in a group sprint, and we felt the team had a legitimate chance to win the race. We didn’t want to blow everyone out on Saturday trying to finish the brutal race only to be tired on Sunday. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. Our plan for the day was to try to win one of the smaller prizes like the Sprints Especiales or the Meta Volantes. It would require that one of our riders make one of the early breaks. The Sprinters, Ken Hanson and Eric Young, were instructed to support the team for around 100k and then pull out to save it for Sunday. Sebastian Salas and Marsh Cooper could race the full day and go for a result. Everyone else was focused on making the breaks and winning a sprint jersey. If they were not the one to make the break, they were to support Marsh and Sebastian as long as they could and then pull the pin to save their legs for Sunday.
The guys were aggressive from the start matching all the moves from the peloton; it took about 25k before the break was able to establish itself. It was a powerful group of around 12 guys, with Jesse Anthony representing us in the break. Normally this would be a perfect situation. However, Jesse had been sick with the flu all week and unable to train. On Thursday we weren’t even sure if he could start, but by Friday he felt somewhat better and we needed 8 guys on the start line, so we decided he’d start and likely drop out early.
Jesse Anthony locked up the special sprint classification 85k into the race. I confirmed this with the chief commissar and let Jesse know that he had to finish. He was already falling apart and not excited about finishing. The break still had six minutes, but shortly after 100k, Jesse was dropped from the break. He rode with two Colombian riders for about 20k before he was caught and dropped by the field on the category 1 climb. With around 55k to go Jesse was already about 10 minutes behind the leaders and not looking good. We calculated that he could only lose 22 or 23 minutes on the day and at the rate he was going he wouldn’t make it. Hanson and Young had already pulled out. Zwizanski and Salas and Friedman were unable to hold onto the lead group on the category one climb and also called it a day. This left us with only Tom Soladay and Marsh Cooper in the lead group, which was probably down to less than 50 guys. We needed one of them to drop back to help Jesse or he wouldn’t make the time cutoff for the race. Tom Soladay was the guy for the job. It was a shame as Tom was having a great day. He was obviously disappointed, but he took one for the team and went back for Jesse. Tom rode with Jesse for the last 50k and paced him the whole time. They finished 19 minutes back and Jesse went to the podium to collect his trophy at the GP Miguel Indurain after an epic day of racing.