By Laman Ismayilova
Samir Jabrayilov and Oleksandr Polivoda came close to victory at the Grand Prix Side on March 11.
A late attack by Polivoda was brought back with the finish in sight, Jabrayilov was second in the sprint.
The 184-kilometre race had everything a one-day race needed – long straight roads with a bit of wind coming from the Mediterranean Sea, two circuits in the city with lots of turns, some small climbs, and a trip into the mountains with four third-category climbs until 30 km from the finish. In the first half of the race, there were countless attacks and different breakaways that however never got far away.
Eldar Dzhabrailov shared his thoughts about the race.
“We were considered favourites by the other teams, and in the first half our young riders led by experienced breakaway rider Elchin Asadov controlled all the dangerous breaks without making mistakes. Then, Samir Jabrayilov went into a break with five other riders, and they managed to take an advantage of one minute before the mountains. There was a strong climber from Torku in this break, so the other teams didn't want to let them get too far ahead, and on the climbs the race split into many small groups,” he said.
“Oleksandr Polivoda was in the first chase group of 14 riders, and after the first climb he managed to bridge to the front on his own without bringing any dangerous riders with him. I think this was the key point that decided the entire race. At that time, there were three riders left with Samir and Oleksandr who decided to work together. The Torku rider attacked solo with 35 km to go, but the joint work of Samir, Oleksandr, and the two other escapees brought him back with 20 km to go. At this point, they had a two-minute advantage on the next group,” he added.
With two strong riders in the break, the tactical burden was on the Synergy Baku riders, and at three kilometres from the finish Oleksandr Polivoda started attacking to pre-empt a sprint where anything could happen.
When Polivoda's last attack was brought back with 300 metres to go, Samir Jabrayilov started the sprint, but the rider in his wheel managed to get around him just before the finish line. Samir finished second, Oleksandr came across the line in fifth place. With two riders in the top-5, the Synergy Baku Cycling Project also won the prize as best team.
“It was a little annoying to leave without the victory after a race where all our riders did brilliantly. But I am happy that they worked together and raced cleverly, and I believe that we can use this to win another race,” concluded Dzhabrailov.
Samir stressed that the race was very hard.
“It was a hot day and a very hard race! I could have won this race, but lost in the sprint. Oleksandr Polivoda did a really good job. I am happy about the result, but I can be better for sure. I will learn from my mistake, and I hope that in the next races we will do better with this new experience,” he said.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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