Before Holy Week, the Flanders fortnight, when young Spanish cyclists with good and big bodies want to flourish, and feed their spirit and their dreams, populated with cobblestones and hardness. He started doing it last Friday, mud, rain, cold and wind, Iván García Cortina, the most flamenco and expert of the Spanish today, who finished fifth in the GP E3 in Harelbeke, and he did it on Wednesday, even more spectacular, and younger, Oier Lazkano from Vitoria, also from Movistar, second in the A Través de Flandes, 186 kilometres, 11 walls, eight cobbled sections. A man on the run.
After Juan Antonio Flecha, expert in Flanders, winner of the Het Nieuwsblad, four more podiums in the classic that opens the year in Belgium, podium also in Ghent-Wevelgem, E3 and Tour of Flanders, and Óscar Freire, the great classicist Spanish, winner of a Ghent-Wevelgem and podium of an E3, Lazkano, a giant of 1.89 meters, 73 kilos and 23 years old, is the third Spanish cyclist in history to climb on the podium of a Flemish WorldTour classic. “To be on the podium in these Flemish classics, which are so important for the Belgians and for everyone, is very nice”, he says. “It’s very special, yes.”
“It’s the good thing about getting into the breakaway, that you almost spend less than in the peloton because you don’t have to be under the stress of always being well positioned and you wear yourself out in the whips, and in the end you’re ahead. You are one step ahead of the peloton”, says the Basque from Movistar, a member of the initial breakaway of six riders, born 167 kilometers from the finish line in Waregem and dead to six, reached by a minimum peloton, with the best. The leak died, but not Lazkano. Shortly after, four minutes from the finish, after Tiesj Benoot’s zapping work, the Frenchman Christophe Laporte attacked, the same man who won the Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday in the company of his leader, Wout van Aert, who asked 10 kilometers from the finish line, do you want to win?, and gave him the victory. In Waregem, Laporte went alone and only arrived, with a 15s advantage over the irredeemable Spaniard, again on the run after his capture. “Laporte left, and then in the little group he was in, when Powless attacked, three of them and he hit me, I said to myself, ‘I have to leave what I have’, and that’s how it has been,” sums up Lazkano, who left with The North American from EF finished the race exhausting all his energy, and even had the strength to sprint him. He finished second.
More than in the Tour of Flanders on Palm Sunday, the next one, in which he will participate as support for García Cortina in the Belgian World Cup, where the walls, the Quaremont, the Koppenberg and the fantastic three await him, Pogacar, Van Aert and Van der Poel, absent on Wednesday, Lazkano thinks of other cobblestones without walls, on the pavés of Hell in the North, in Paris-Roubaix on April 9, Easter Sunday. “My plan is the same. I will try to take a break of 180-190 kilometers to be ahead at the end and see how far I can go”, says the Basque rider, an excellent time trial specialist, and a great engine, capable of pulling the peloton up along with climbers an entire port like Alto Colorado, in the Andes, in the last Vuelta a San Juan. In Waregem he did it, and in Roubaix he will do it, following the tactics of Imanol Erviti, another great supporter of Movistar, another big body, and heart, who after long breakaways managed to finish in the top 10 in Flanders and Roubaix in 2016.
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