Movistar's Imanol Erviti rides in the breakaway all day to claim seventh at the Tour of Flanders and makes history for his nation in the process
The 32-year-old became only the second rider from Spain to ever claim a top-10 finish in De Ronde and the first in Movistar team history.
It wasn’t any old ride, though, with Erviti riding for 180km in the breakaway that almost lasted to the end of the race.
Having made the initial breakaway, the Pamplona native attacked with Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) and was joined by the group that contained Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).
When that group accelerated on the final ascent of the Paterberg, Erviti then found the strength to hold on to the back of the next group he came across, containing the likes of Alexander Kristoff and Luke Rowe.
At the finish, and despite riding for 180km in the break, the double Vuelta a España stage winner used the last of his energy reserves to battle for seventh place – ahead of every Etixx-Quick Step rider, a team who were confident of winning the race.
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“When Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke bridged across to us from the rear, they were going very fast and I could only try to stay with them and ride my own race intelligently,” Erviti said.
“Until the last moment, I didn’t think it feasible to be fighting for a top-ten place or achieving a good result in general. It was an ambition, but until the top of the Paterberg I wasn’t confident, not because I wasn’t capable of it, but because I had used up so much energy, and behind they were coming up very fast and it is always difficult.
“In Flanders, the race always comes from behind, and I thought it would be unlikely.”
The only other Spaniard to ever place in the top 10 is Juan Antonio Flecha, who finished third in 2008 while riding for Rabobank.
Erviti now turns his attentions back to playing the teammate role for Alejandro Valverde in the Ardennes Classics later this month, but this race will last long in his memory.