Luis León Sánchez answers his critics with Tropicale Amissa Bongo stage one victory
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Monday, January 13, 2014

Luis León Sánchez answers his critics with Tropicale Amissa Bongo stage one victory

by Ben Atkins at 7:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Rejected Spanish rider takes the first professional race of 2014 for new team

luis leon sanchezHaving been rejected by the Belkin team with a year remaining on his contract, Luis León Sánchez answered his critics with victory in the opening stage of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo race, in the West African republics of Gabon and Cameroon, for new team Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. The 30-year-old Spaniard, who was dumped by his former Dutch team due to alleged links to both controversial doctors Eufemiano Fuentes and Michele Ferrari, was the fastest of the six remaining riders of a 20-man break that had escaped early in the 149.2km stage.

Sánchez beat compatriot Egoitz Garcia (Cofidis) and Eritrean Natnael Berhane (Europcar) to the line, but intermediate sprint bonuses won by Garcia during the stage meant that the Cofidis rider took the overall lead at the end of day one.

"This victory reassures me,” Sánchez said. “This means I have already found a good feeling despite the strong heat that is so different from the cold in Europe.”

Also left in the break were Linus Gerdemann (MTN-Qhubeka), Grégory Habeaux (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Fabrice Jeandesboz (Team Europcar), while the rest of the group were steadily tailed off during the hot stage. Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) ttok the sprint for seventh place, ahead of Florian Senechal (Cofidis), 53 seconds behind Sánchez, while Fréderique Robert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) led a group of seven home after 2’46”.

After just one stage, the general classification of the week-long race was already likely reduced to a battle between just six riders, with Berhane the one African rider in the mix, in a race that was an early-season target.

“I am very happy with this first day,” the Eritrean said, “happy with my work. I think, there are beautiful things to do till the last stage. I am here to do a very good performance. It’s my ambition.”

Result stage 1
1. Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
2. Egoitz Garcia (Spa) Cofidis
3. Natnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar
4. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
5. Grégory Habeaux (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
6. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Team Europcar @ 4s
7. Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert @ 53s
8. Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis
9. Fréderique Robert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert @ 2’46”
10. Giovanni Bernadeau (Fra) Team Europcar

Standings after stage 1
1. Egoitz Garcia (Spa) Cofidis
2. Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA @ 1s
3. Natnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar @ 7s
4. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka @ 11s
5. Grégory Habeaux (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
6. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Team Europcar @ 15s
7. Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis @ 57s
8. Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert @ 58s
9. Fréderique Robert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert @ 2’57”
10. Giovanni Bernadeau (Fra) Team Europcar

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