Marc Hirschi wins Villafranca de Ordizia amid crash chaos

Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates)
Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) claimed the victory in a chaotic finale in the Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika. The Swiss champion out-paced Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) in a two-up sprint but that was hardly the whole story.

Hirschi's teammate Juan Ayuso was off the front with Oier Lazkano (Movistar) in the final kilometre but both riders were taken out by separate crashes in the rain.

The five-lap race - a typically hilly Basque lead-up to the Clasica San Sebastián - was a race of attrition with the Alto de Abaltzisketa the final difficulty around 10km to go.

Lazkano, Hirschi and Ayuso leapt away on that climb with Felix Engelhardt and Jesús David Peña (Jayco AlUla), Alex Cepeda (EF Education-EasyPost), Igor Arrieta (Kern Pharma), Alessandro Fedeli (Q36.5), and Javier Romo (Astana Qazaqstan).

Ayuso and Lazkano crested the climb with a slight lead with Hirschi and Healy not far behind. Ayuso could have had the upper hand with his teammate chasing behind, but the tactics never had a chance to play out. Lazkano slid out in one turn and on the next, Ayuso also fell.

The pursuers passed the crash victims and, in the finale, Healy opened up the sprint but Hirschi proved too quick and snatched the victory.

“I’m really happy with this victory," Hirschi said. "It was a hard race and made even harder by the rain. We worked well as a team, unfortunately Juan came down at the end but he could still hold on for podium. 

"We showed that we are strong and I think we can be competitive for San Sebastián. A lot of hard training has gone into this over the past months with team training camps in Andorra so it’s nice to see it paying off."

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