Matteo Pelucchi delivered a morale-boosting win to Geox-TMC with a photo-finish victory in the Clásica de Almería in Spain on Sunday.
Pelucchi won the bike-stab at the line to relegate Spanish rider José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) to second place in the 26th running of the one-day race along Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Pim Ligthart (Vancansoleil) rounded out the podium with third.
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervélo) and Jens Voigt (Leopard-Trek) were part of an early move that pulled clear on some early climbs, but the bunch worked to bring that back.
Fran Ventoso, another one of Movistar’s sprinters, decided he didn’t want to wait for a mass gallop and tried to ride away. He was joined by two others and the trio built up a two-minute difference before the sprint teams started to work together.
Defending champion Theo Bos (Rabobank) abandoned late in the race and the leading trio was reeled in with 5km to go to set up the mass sprint.
Pelucchi’s victory is the first for Geox-TMC and will come as a boon for the team still reeling by missing out on a ProTeam license and an invitation to race the Tour de France. The team scored a second-place podium with Fabio Duarte at the GP di Lugano on Sunday, results they hope will put them in favor with Giro d’Italia organizers. Giro invitations are expected to be released March 7.