06 Jun 2019
Thomas Champion (Team XC Radon) wins the Flash Stage after going solo from the first kilometers. A chase group formed behind him and included Ismael Esteban (Aldro- Arrueda), Víctor Fernández (Team Wolfbike), and Ever Alejandro Gómez (Olympia Factory Cycling), who competed for the two remaining spots “on the box.” In the women’s category, Natalia Fischer (MMR Factory Racing) from Málaga won the first stage. In the initial kilometers, Fischer rode together with Clàudia Galicia (Megamo UCI Team) until the stage’s halfway point, followed by Ana Antunes riding more than two minutes behind the leaders. Galicia crashed in the finishing stretch but that didn't stop her from finishing second.
The MMR Asturias Bike Race started with a 23 km Flash Stage that passed through the trails near the town of Tineo. It was a fast route in which the mountain bikers were able to enjoy the surrounding area as well as get their first taste of the race.
The lead group in the men's category split apart quickly. A few kilometers from the start, Thomas Champion (Team XC Radon) set an intense pace that allowed him to go solo. At the stage’s halfway point, he was more than a minute ahead of the chase group formed by Ismael Esteban (Aldro-Arrueda), Víctor Fernández (Team Wolfbike) and Ever Alejandro Gómez (Olympia Factory Cycling), so he had to keep up the pace in order not to get caught.
In the women’s category, Natalia Fisher (MMR Factory Racing) rode together with Clàudia Galicia (Megamo UCI Team), followed by Ana Antunes more than two minutes behind. In the last kilometers, the Catalan mountain biker suffered a crash that caused her to lose time to Fischer, but she still managed to cross the finish line in second place.
In the last kilometers, Champion, the young French mountain biker, wanted to make sure he had a time dividend so he drove up the pace to reach the finish line with a time of 00.58.38 followed by Esteban who came second a minute down from Champion. The men’s podium was finished off by Fernández.
1. Thomas Champion (Team XC Radon)
2. Ismael Esteban (Aldro- Arrueda)
3. Víctor M. Fernández (Team Wolfbike)
Thomas Champion: "It was a very nice stage. We went out in the rain, with a very gray sky, which didn't look good at all. In the first kilometers I went alone and I widened the gap on the climb. I arrived with just over 20 seconds, so it was a good day. Tomorrow we will have to do well to defend the leader's jersey. I know it will be difficult because it is a much longer stage but I hope to be in among the lead positions."
Ismael Esteban: "I controlled the start of the stage quite a lot by pulling the group and setting a high pace, but without pushing too hard because of what was up ahead. In a flat area, Champion attacked and went alone. Behind him, we were watching each other while he got a significant advantage. We pushed it near the end – Catriel Soto was first, then Víctor Manuel Fernández, and finally Ever Alejandro Gómez. I soloed away to take back as much time from Champion as possible and that's how it was. It's a pity that I couldn't catch him in the end." “There's a lot of racing ahead and the weather seems to be a key factor. I think the race is going to be in survival mode. Here in Asturias there are no easy sections, so we will have to pull hard in the next stages."
1. Natalia Fischer (MMR Factory Racing)
2. Clàudia Galicia (Megamo UCI Team)
3. Ana Antunes (MMR)
Natalia Fischer: "I came here with a bit of curiosity because I'm preparing specifically for the XCO and I didn't know how my body was going to respond. In the end, the stage went well and I was able to control the stage. In the last stretch I turned up the pace a little and I was able to break free of Clàudia Galicia. Unfortunately she crashed almost at the finish line; I hope it’s nothing serious and that she'll recover as soon as possible. It seems that I bring rain wherever I go! It was a beautiful stage, of course. There was a bit of mud, but I enjoyed it the whole time. My plans for tomorrow are to keep the lead, although I know they are tough stages. I want to rest as much as possible to recover and face the tough rivals I'm going to have".
Clàudia Galicia: "It was a very fast stage. I was second, after Natalia Fischer, and I was feeling pretty good, but I had a big crash. It was wet because of the rain and my bike slipped. I went down and lost even more time at the finish line. Luckily, I seem to have only one bruise, so we'll see how the night goes and see what happens tomorrow. That's racing, so let's try to enjoy as much as we can".