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Oscar Rodriguez takes solid second place atop Mont Ventoux

Oscar Rodriguez showed pure climber class at the one-day race Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, taking a solid second podium place on the top of the legendary Giant of Provence Mont Ventoux.

The Astana – Premier Tech rider launched a strong counterattack from a small group of chasers with some seven kilometres to go, trying to follow the attack of the Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez, who stayed solo at the front to claim the win.

With four kilometres to the top, Enric Mas joined the Astana – Premier Tech rider in his chase, but on the finish line Rodriguez was just stronger, taking an impressive second place, 2 minutes 26 seconds behind the race winner.

“I think I can be happy with my performance today as I did my best in this race and to be on the podium next to Miguel Angel Lopez is a big achievement for me. He is a great champion and right now he is in great form ahead of the Tour de France. So, to be second behind him is a good result. The team worked well for me today and on the climb I just tried to be close to other favorites. In a moment I went away alone, and I think it was a good move. Later Enric Mas caught me, but I still had some energy to attack inside the last kilometre and to take the second place. I know that Gleb Brussenskiy crashed during the race and now he is in the hospital for medical check-up. I wish Gleb a speedy recovery and hope to see him in our next race La Route d’Occitanie”, – said Oscar Rodriguez.

The race, last year won by Aleksandr Vlasov, started in Vaison-la-Romaine and shortly after the flag dropped, a few riders formed the daily breakaway. However, the peloton did not give the escapees too much space and at the bottom of the final ascent to Mont Ventoux, the break has been completely neutralized.

Inside the final 15 kilometres of the race there was just a small group of favourites with Oscar Rodriguez and Merhawi Kudus among them representing the Kazakh-Canadian team. It was Miguel Angel Lopez, who attacked with some 12 kilometres to go to quickly open a big gap, enough to take the race win.

While Kudus was forced to drop from the chasing group, taking his own pace, Rodriguez proved to be one of the most active riders behind the solo leader, working in front of the chasing group and following the attacks of the rivals. With seven kilometres to go, Rodriguez took an opportunity for a strong counterattack which delivered him a place on the podium on the famous climb of Mont Ventoux.

Gleb Brussenskiy was involved in a crash on the descent. Initial evaluations suggest the Kazakh rider did not sustain any serious injuries, however, after the race he has been moved to the hospital for medical check-up. Th team will communicate on Brussenkiy’s state of health as soon as possible.

“We started this race with two leaders, Merhawi Kudus and Oscar Rodriguez. While for Merhawi it was the first race after a long break, Oscar already did the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he showed he had really good form. So, we were expecting something good from him today. We knew the race and knew the climb really well as last year Aleksandr Vlasov brought us a beautiful victory here, so we were aiming to fight for another high result. Indeed, Miguel Angel Lopez was the biggest favourite after Dauphiné, so our plan was to follow his attacks and to try to stay as close to him as possible. The team did a good job for both our leaders on the first lap and during the first ascent to Mont Ventoux, while in the final Oscar showed really good legs staying with the best riders and attacking in a right moment. Of course, we would prefer to win today, but Lopez was just the strongest. However, we are very happy with such a strong performance of Oscar Rodriguez and this podium place give us some additional motivation ahead of La Route d’Occitanie”, – said Dmitriy Fofonov.

Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, Vaison-la-Romaine – Mont Ventoux, 153 km.

Top-3: 1. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar Team); 2. Oscar Rodriguez (Astana – Premier Tech); 3. Enric Mas (Movistar Team).

Photo credit: @Getty Images