Due to strong wind, organizers of Clasica Almeria decided to shorten the stage to only 21 kilometers. In this unusual event, Eryk Latoń finished 9th. It was first race of the 2016 season for the 22-year old.
The plan was to set up a lead-out for me and my teammates did everything they could to help me get a good position for the sprint. But the wind was enormous today and it was very hard to do. Riders were almost falling down because of it – Eryk Latoń said afterwards. – When Mateusz Taciak and Nikolay Mihaylov moved up at the head of the bunch, the wind practically blew them away. With two laps remaining it was only me, Barłomiej Matysiak and Maciej Paterski, who left in the first group. We were sitting behind Katusha, but when IAM Cycling attacked in the finale, the field broke apart. I arrived at the line in the top 10, so I can be satisfied with that result. Especially if I take into consideration the fact, that it was my first race of the season.
Last time when I experienced such a stron wind was in Morocco, but then they cancelled the race. We thought that the organizers in Almeria will do the same. We were sitting in the bus waiting for the final decision and we were in a little shock when our DS, Gabriele Missaglia informed us that in 15 minutes we are doing city criterium. We had to quickly get ready mentally to go and compete.
Initially the race was supposed to be 180 kilometers long. Enormous wind was blowing right from the start though. At first it was decided to neutralize the first 15 kilometers of racing, but since the conditions didn’t change, the race got stopped at around 40km mark. The entire peloton moved back to the finish to play out only six, 3,5-kilometer circuits.
On this short distance and in windy conditions, it was nearly impossible to break clear. CCC Sprandi Polkowice formed its sprinting train with two laps to go. Eventually the bunch split apart on the last 2 kilometers and three riders emerged in the front – Leigh Howard, Aleksejs Saramotins (both IAM Cycling) and Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha). The former could count on his teammate’s help and finished off his lead-out perfectly. He took the win, defeating Tsatevich.
Eryk Latoń claimed 9th place, coming in 8 seconds behind the winners. For the 22-year old rider it was his first race of the season. Bartłomiej Matysiak was 17th and Maciej Paterski 21st.