Aberasturi opens account with first UCI win of career

Aberasturi claims opening stage and lead at Tour de Korea

05/06/2016 at 10:41Updated 05/06/2016 at 13:16

Former Euskaltel rider Jon Aberasturi clips race favourites to win stage 1 and kick off the 2016 Tour de Korea in the yellow leaders jersey…

GUMI, South Korea—Former WorldTour rider Jon Aberasturi (Team UKYO) logged his first UCI professional win in his career on his palmarés by edging pre-race favourite Brenton Jones (Drapac Pro Cycling) to claim the opening stage win and the yellow leaders jersey at the 2016 Tour de Korea (UCI 2.1) in Gumi, South Korea, on Sunday, June 5.

The 27-year-old Spaniard, who rode Euskaltel-turned-Euskadi for two years (2013-14), took advantage of what Jones believed may have been a missed opportunity for his Australian-based Pro Continental team, as well as his former New Zealand-registered Continental squad, Avanti-IsoWhey Sports.

“I think we and Avanti fell pretty short actually,” said the 24-year-old Australian from Victoria, who is fresh off a two-month stint racing in Europe. “We heard it was a tailwind at the finish, but we still came up short.”

Jones told Eurosport his teammate and two-time Olympic gold medallist, Graeme Brown (AUS), was in front with 600m to go, but peeled off after realising Jones was two riders back behind compatriots and Avanti rivals Pat Shaw and Neil van der Ploeg.

“When ‘Brownie’ saw that I wasn’t there he immediately swung off and I knew he was going to do that, so I jumped behind van der Ploeg and ‘Shawry’,” explained Jones. “But ‘Shawry’ didn’t give van der Ploeg much, so Neil was left in the wind with 300m to go.

“I was immediately looking for whoever was going have a crack and just five guys came flying past with less than 300m to go,” he continued. “So, I snuck behind them, and the winner had a really good run from second or third wheel and I came from fourth or fifth wheel.

“I stepped out at 150m and had more speed than the rest, but the line came too quickly and [Aberasturi] had a good sprint for the win.”

Former WorldTour rider Jon Aberasturi (Team UKYO) clips pre-race favourite Brenton Jones (Drapac Pro Cycling) to claim the opening stage and his first UCI win of career - Photo credit: Daebong Kim

Former WorldTour rider Jon Aberasturi (Team UKYO) clips pre-race favourite Brenton Jones (Drapac Pro Cycling) to claim the opening stage and his first UCI win of career - Photo credit: Daebong KimEurosport

As for Aberasturi, who is fresh off three non-UCI wins this season, he is pleased with the win and not entirely surprised with his performance.

“I am very happy with the sprint,” he told Eurosport. “This year, I am in very good condition, but have not had the results I wanted in UCI races so I wanted to win here today.

“I came here with trust in myself and my team, and now have a victory to show for it.”

According to the new race leader, who also tops the points classification with the win, the task of defending the yellow jersey may be too much for the small Japanese Continental team to handle.

“Our team is small, and the bigger teams will not be so gracious in the stages to come,” admitted Aberasturi, with seven days remaining in the eight-stage road race. “But we will do our best to get results and win more races as every stage could end in a sprint.”

As for Jones, who has assumed the role of team sprinter after the departure of 25-year-old Dutchman and two-time TdK stage winner Wouter Wippert (Cannondale Pro Cycling) to the WorldTour.

“I am pretty happy with that sprint,” he said. “It would have been nice to win, but now puts a lot of pressure on them with that jersey.

“Maybe it’s a good sign, so we can have another day without the jersey as I am still up there in good condition.

“To earn a podium is good,” Jones concluded. “Now we just line up tomorrow and have another go.”

Korean riders were also on point during the majority of the often times nervous 189.1-kilometre race from Busan, with national riders in the four-man break for the majority of the day to claim both intermediate sprint and the king of the mountain points.

In the sole intermediate sprint, Donghyun Shin (LX-IIBS Cycling Team) claimed five points in first, followed by Okcheol Kim (Seoul Cycling Team) with three points, Kyunggu Jang (Korail Cycling Team) with two points and Wooho Jung (Geumsan Insam Cello) with one point.

Jang took top honours on the KOM, followed by Jung and Geumsan teammate Hyeongmin Choe.

Third place finisher Joon Yong Seo (KSPO), who is in third on general classification, is also in the lead of the best Korean rider classification.

“I was satisfied with my sprinting position until the end, so I was aiming for general classification,” Seo shared with Eurosport post race. “However, because of the unexpected strong wind, I was overtaken at the end of the race, which I feel bad about.

“From now on, I think I will need to make good decisions as the race unfolds,” he continued. “I need to read the race and decide whether to breakaway or position myself in the peloton waiting to sprint.

“Making the right decisions every day seems to be the most important thing.”

Aside from stage wins and classification jerseys, valuable Olympic qualification points for Rio 2016 are also up for grabs for the Korean national riders – a fact not lost on Seo.

“All of them mean a lot to me,” admitted Seo. “Being able to receive points for Rio Olympics through this race definitely means a lot, and participating in a race held in my home country while racing for Olympics motivate me very much.”