Juan José Lobato gave Euskaltel's sponsor search a potentially big boost by annihilating the field in Wednesday's Circuito de Getxo.
The young sprinter, easily the team's best signing this season, had no rivals in the dash for the line, coasting to his second win of the year and his employer's only sixth triumph of 2013. Realizing he had plenty of time to savour his win just outside Bilbao, the Andalusian pointed to the sponsor of his shirt, no doubt trying to do his part in securing the team a future that by the day is looking ever gloomier.
Lobato of course has a history in this race. As a fresh-faced 22-year-old he surprised a whole lot of people by sprinting to his breakthrough win in the colours of his home team. Today's win was a lot less surprising, though. Such a big pre-race favourite was Lobato that the team decided to chase down the day's big main break even though they had both Pablo Urtasun and Ricardo García in it.
When it came down to the sprint, no one got even remotely close to Lobato.
"My team-mates did a great job", he said post- race. "They trusted me and sacrificed themselves for me. This win is for all of them. In the tough situation we're in right now, we've delivered on a sporting level. Let's hope this win can help us find a solution.
"I didn't really expect this win", he added. "I wasn't feeling really good throughout the race. I felt a bit fatigued from the Tour, but I knew the finish suited me. In the end, we took a big win for the team and for the fans".
Another rider who stood out was Team Euskadi's Aritz Bagües. The youngster offered added proof of his potential by forming part of a dangerous late-race move that was only caught on the final lap.
Results (Euskadi riders in cursive):
- 1, Juan José Lobato, 3:51:08
- 7, Rubén Pérez, 0:08
- 21, Juan José Oroz, 0:29
- 22, Jorge Azanza, 0:33
- 29, Mikel Landa, 0:46
- 34, Gorka Verdugo, 0:57
- 39, Egoi Martínez, 1:23
- 43, Carlos Barbero, 1:40
- 53, Aritz Bagües, 2:05
- 71, Illart Zuazubiskar, 6:33
- 73, Unai Iparraguirre, s.t.
- 74, Igor Merino, s.t.
- 81, Ricardo García, 7:32
- 83, Haritz Orbe, 7:36
- 86, Peio Bilbao, s.t.
- 91, Pablo Urtasun, 10:51