MADRID (AFP) — RadioShack’s Markel Irizar (Radioshack) secured overall victory in the Ruta del Sol Thursday after the fifth and final stage, won by Oscar Freire of Rabobank.
Irizar took a one-second overnight lead over Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck into the 162km ride from Cordoba to Antequera, and defended his slim advantage to secure his first major success.
Van den Broeck finished second, with another RadioShack rider, American Levi Leipheimer, in third two seconds behind.
“This is unbelievable,” said Irizar after the finish. “I am so happy with this victory, but even more with the way my teammates worked for me.
“Jani Brajkovic, Levi Leipheimer, Robbie Hunter, Haimar Zubeldia, Dmitriy Muravyev and Ivan Rovny, they all worked for me four long days.
“It is hard to describe the feelings that I have now.”
“Some people thought we took Markel in the team just because he had the same disease as Lance (testicular cancer). We took Markel because he was a good rider,” said the Belgian.
“Haimar Zubeldia advised us to take him in the team. Markel is good in the time trials and he is just a perfect teammate, always ready to work for the others.
“He never complains and is always smiling. It was perfectly logical that his teammates liked to work for him this week.”