Ahead of the Tour of Flanders, Movistar was hoping for rather than expecting a top ten finish for one of their riders. However, Imanol Erviti, one of the great team players in Spanish cycling, surprised everybody with a solid performance and a 7th place at the race finish in Oudenaarde. He is only the second Spaniard in history, after Juan Antonio Flecha, to achieve a top ten finish in the Ronde.
The race started well as Erviti made the early breakaway more than 180 KM from the finish. He attacked together with Van Hoecke and the two were joined by Greipel and others. Imanol was fourth on the Koppenberg and later on, after the Kruisberg, Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke bridged across. On the final Kwaremont-Paterberg crossing, Erviti rode alongside Cancellara and in the end he was part of the group fighting for fourth. With a final push he sprinted for seventh and achieved the best ever finish in Flanders for any Movistar rider.
He was in disbelief after the race as he did not think he would finish so high right until the top of the Paterberg:
Imanol Erviti: “How do I feel? Tired! [He laughs] Today has been like a testimonial for me, riding at the front on the Muurs, with so many people at the roadside enjoying the atmosphere… it was incredible. A great feeling, wonderful. I enjoyed myself. But it was a maximum effort. 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. 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.“After that last climb, where I was with Terpstra and the group including Kristoff caught us, I began to hope. In the sprint, I gave it everything. I thought I could get past Van Baarle for 6th place, but I had pretty bad cramp and I could barely turn the pedals. I have a long journey home now and I want to get back to my family, hug my wife and son, and thank all the people who help and support me, who have made it possible for me to achieve this result: team-mates, the race director, everyone. It is wonderful to have experienced this. Now it is time to rest, savour the result, and turn my thoughts to the Ardennes with Alejandro [Valverde]. They are important races for us and I want to do my job well.” he added.
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Imanol Erviti Movistar top ten finish Tour of Flanders 2016 world tour