Castroviejo awaits successor

The loss of the Biscayan marks the national time trial, which will be held this Friday. Pello Bilbao, Mavi García, Xabier Mikel Azparren and Iurani Blanco start as favorites.

The Spanish Cycling Championships, which are held until Sunday in Jaén with notable losses due to the proximity of the Tour de France, begin this Friday with the individual time trial tests, in which Pello Bilbao and Mavi García are favorites, in professionals, and Mikel Azparren and Iurani Blanco, in sub-23.

These Nationals, with routes of 45.4 kilometers for the men's elite chrono and 26.3 kilometers for the rest of the categories between the towns of Cazorla and La Iruela, will start with the women's event and two main candidates for victory: Mavi García and Sheyla Gutierrez.

The Balearic cyclist, who already won the national time trial title in 2018, arrives at these championships at the best moment of her career after brilliant performances at the Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa and, above all, at Strade Bianche, for which she starts as the great favorite with the current champion, Sheyla Gutiérrez.

La Rioja offered a marvelous display of rolling capacity last year in Murcia, which could well be repeated in Jaén, as it approaches these nationals with a great pedal stroke, as witnessed by its recent triumph in La Perigord.

The first section of the time trial is more conducive to good riders, since from Cazorla to overcoming kilometer 15 they will find a fairly smooth route and, from there to the finish line in La Iruela, the cyclists will face a terrain that will constantly bite upwards until ending in the narrow streets of that town.

Other riders who can play a leading role in this time trial are Lourdes Oyarbide, champion of Spain in 2017 and silver in the last edition; Gloria Rodríguez, second in 2016 and third in 2019; Alicia González; or Eider Merino.

In the professional men's time, and before the loss of the Basque Jonathan Castroviejo (Team Ineos), five times champion in the years 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018, gold and silver in the European (2016 and 2018) and bronze in the World Championship (2016), the favorite is the Biscayan Pello Bilbao, who this season has changed the Astana jersey for the Bahrain McLaren.

Bilbao was second in 2019 in Murcia behind Castroviejo, in a campaign in which he won two stages in the Giro d'Italia, while in 2018 he shone with a victory in a day in the Dauphiné Libere and another in the Tour of the Alps .

Other riders who intend to qualify for the podium in the 45.4-kilometer event are his Bahrain teammate Rafa Valls; Gorka Izagirre (Astana), third in the Nacional against the clock in 2019 and second in 2018 and 2015; Sebastián Mora and Albert Torres (Movistar); and as a noteworthy note David Valero, Spanish mountain bike champion who has also registered in the online test.

Before this test it will be the turn of the participants in the male and female sub-23 category, and in the latter a beautiful battle is expected between Iurani Blanco, who defends the title, and the duo formed by Sara Martín and Sandra Alonso, who They come from showing a high level in the Euskaldun Trophy events.

In the men's U-23 time, the Basque Mikel Azparren defends the title in a test that starts in Cazorla and finishes in La Iruela, covering 26.3 kilometers.

It consists of a smoother first part leaving Cazorla and arriving at Peal de Becerro; and another, once the 15th kilometer, more difficult, back to Cazorla with a terrain in which it will constantly bite upwards until entering La Iruela, where the runners will penetrate through its narrow streets reaching the finish line located on Avenida de Andalusia.

Along with Azparren, a list of candidates stands out, among which the Balearic Joan Martí Bennassar stands out, bronze in the last two years; Raúl García from Madrid, who is completing a fantastic first year at the U23; Riojan Arturo Grávalos, sixth in Murcia 2019; or the Cantabrian Iván Cobo.

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