The veteran sprinter puts his name back into the WorldTour
You probably haven’t heard much about Jon Aberasturi. And why should you? In his 11 pro seasons, he has mainly carried out his career in Spain. His last WorldTour team was in 2013 with Euskaltel-Euskadi and he then bounced around pro and continental teams. He’s a team worker, one of the unsung heroes who do the job quietly and then hits the showers while the more prominent names take to the podiums.
But in Stage 2 of the Tour of Romandie, Jon nearly stole the headlines, sprinting to a close second place behind Ethan Hayter of Team Ineos Grenadiers. Crossing the line, Jon bowed his head, knowing he was that close to taking the biggest win of his career.
“I’m happy with second place,” he said. “Today was a nice opportunity for me, so I focused on it. In the last 30km, we were going super fast, and in some moments, I was on the limit, but I knew I had to keep going.
“In the last kilometer, Geraint Thomas passed with Ethan Hayter in his wheel, and I knew I needed to follow them, so that’s what I did. I pushed a lot in the final, and while I maybe didn’t have super legs after my efforts earlier, I could do second place. I think I can be pleased with that.”
Before the race came down to a sprint, Toms Skujiņš joined the day’s token breakaway that escaped in the early kilometers.
“The plan was to try and get into the breakaway. Number one because we wouldn’t have to chase and number two to see how the day unfolded because there are not that many sprinters here, at least not many teams interested in theory,” explained Toms.
With only four riders in the breakaway, the chances of survival were slim. But Toms pushed on.
“It’s always a challenge to survive in a break like this. For sure, we tried not to go crazy in the beginning, and the bunch kept us around 2.5 minutes. Then in the last 30 kilometers, we really started to push, and soon it was just two of us in front, with me having to do most of the work. It just seemed like I was strongest in the break, which was good but also bad because, of course, I wish we would have had a few stronger riders with me.”
At 20 kilometers to go, Toms and his buddy were back in the bunch, and the focus now turned to a possible sprint ending.
This is Switzerland, and the day was far from flat. Still, a strong group of 70 riders came into the final kilometers, with Team Ineos leading the way.
“Jon did a great sprint to take second,” continued Toms. “It’s hard to beat Hayter when he has a full team like that committed to him, and for sure, we have a bit more of a climbing team here and don’t have that big of a lead-out train, another reason we wanted to play both options today. The challenge was pretty big [for the breakaway], but luckily the team in the back was ready for everything.”
Jon confessed to owning less than stellar legs for the sprint, but he still managed to come from behind and overtake a few riders in front of him – all but one, that is. It would have been a massive WorldTour win for the 32-year-old.
“I think we should be pretty happy about the second place,” agreed Toms. “Luckily, we have a new day tomorrow, and it’s more suited to the team we have here; plus, it’s Antwan’s (Tolhoek) birthday, so you can be sure that we will be out there trying to have a birthday party on the road.”
Just like Toms – always thinking of a party!