HOWSON POWERS TO VICTORY ON STAGE 1 OF VUELTA ASTURIAS
Damien Howson claimed a stunning solo win on the opening stage of Vuelta Asturias this Friday, April 28th and sealed the third victory of the season for Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team.
28 April 2023
The 30-year-old Australian broke away from a reduced leading group of just 13 riders with two kilometres to go and crossed the finish line in Pola de Lena with a comfortable margin to seize his seventh win as a professional and his first triumph in Q36.5 Pro Cycling team jersey.
Three riders animated the tough 182km stage from Oviedo to Pola de Lena but the peloton kept them on a short leash and ultimately, the trio was caught with 50km to go.
The action kicked off in the last thirty kilometres that featured no less than three categorised climbs. The first big selection was made on the La Cabaña climb (3.4 kilometers at 9.2 percent) which saw the peloton reduced to just 20 odd riders, amongst them Howson and Italian teammate Gianluca Brambilla.
Five riders, including Howson opened a small gap at the summit of the final climb of the day, the Alto de Carabanzo (2.1 kilometers at 9.8 percent) but the rest of the front group rejoined on the descent.
With a select bunch sprint on the horizon Howson expertly played his card with two kilometres to go and launched a daring solo attack. The Australian opened a gap and thanks to amazing legs and the great teamwork from Brambilla in the back, destabilising the chase, held on to take an emphatic solo victory and seize the overall lead in the General Classification.
“I never lost faith”
“It was a really hard final part of the stage. I followed the best guys on the last climb. Five of us had a small gap but a larger group came back in the final descent and in the end we were 15 guys fighting for the win. I saw an opportunity with 2km to go and spoke with Brambi (Gianluca Brambilla) who was also in the front group. He was going to sprint and I was going to try a late attack. There was a small drag with 2km to go and I went all in. Thankfully, I had enough in the legs to hold on for the big win. I knew this stage well from last year, I had finished seventh from a sprint and I knew that if I was to win today the plan was to try to surprise and do a late attack. I was quietly confident coming into this race and I’m super happy to be able to repay the team for their belief in me as a leader,” said Howson.
With this victory on the opening stage of the 66th edition of the Vuelta Asturias, Howson goes into the GC leaders jersey as well as the top of the standings of the Green Points Classification.
“It’s been a couple of years since my last win but I never lost faith. Joining Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team was a great opportunity and it’s nice to repay everyone that supported me and made this victory possible. Tomorrow it will be a new experience for the team and several of my teammates will have the first taste of trying to defend the race lead but we’re ready to do our best in the next two days,” concluded Howson.
Steller day for the team
In a stellar day for our Swiss-registered team Gianluca Brambilla crossed the finishing line in fourth place.
This was the third victory of the 2023 season for Q36.5 Pro Cycling team after the triumphs of Matteo Moschetti in Clasica Almeria and Matteo Badilatti in Tour du Rwanda.
Vuelta Asturias continues this Saturday with a mountainous 182km stage 2 from Candás to Cangas del Narcea. Damien Howson will start with an eight seconds lead in the Overall Classification.