Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hernández wins in memory of Lejarreta

Aitor Hernández's magic run of form seems to have no end: on Saturday, the former roadie clocked up his 18th win of the season in Berriz, Bizkaia.

The race counted as the Championship of Bizkaia, and was held in the late Iñaki Lejarreta's hometown of Berriz to pay homage to the fallen mountain biker. Lejarreta was of course no slouch on the cyclo-cross circuit himself and spent his whole career riding for Orbea, so it was most fitting that current Orbea rider Hernández, born just up the road in Ermua, could lift his arms in jubilation upon crossing the line.

In fact, he could probably have lifter his arms in triumph long before that. On a terribly muddy and technical circuit, no one was able to match Hernández's furious pace, with the recently crowned national champion going on to win by a big 1:25. Kevin Suárez, 2012 senior national champ Isaac's nephew, initially gave it a shot along with the likes of former Orbea road professional Júlen Zubero, Erlantz Uriarte and José Antonio Díez Arriola, but no one was able to shake of the stubborn Hernández and was no match for him on the closing circuits.

Díez Arriola went on to take second, while the ever-improving Jonathan Lastra, despite detrimental crashes, grabbed third.

  1. Aitor Hernández (Ermua-Orbea), 57:03
  2. José Antonio Díez Arriola (Tus Bicis - Maglia Sport), 1:25
  3. Jonathan Lastra (Hirumet Taldea), 1:33 - sub-23 winner
  4. Erlantz Uriarte (Ibaigane Opel), 2:41
  5. Iñigo Gómez (Bio Racer - Caravanas Erandio), 3:20
  6. Júlez Zubero (Ciclos Zubero), 4:26
  7. Ion Gómez (Bio Racer - Caravanas Erandio), 4:43
  8. Asier Arregi (, 5:10
  9. Antonio Suárez (La Paz Club Ciclista), 6:19
  10. Abel García (Patria Hispana), 6:50
Eider Merino was crowned regional champ among the women by besting Lierni Lekuona and Monica Carrascosa. Caja Rural's Alex Aranburu took out the junior men's race, but seeing as he hails from Ezkio-Itsaso in Gipuzkoa, the regional crown went to number two, Eneko Corrales, while Álvaro Carral closed out the podium. 

Of note, three-time national champion Jokin Mujika triumphed in the Máster 50 category. Mujika, once a highly-promising road rider who took in spells with illustrious teams like Orbea and Banesto in the 80s, switched to the mud in the latter stages of an underwhelming career, going on to win the Spanish Championships in 1993, 1994 and 1996. Mujika once beat two real greats of the sport, Robert Millar and Charly Mottet, to win the Bicicleta Vasca (later the Euskal Bizikleta) taking in the famed Arrate climb in 1988 - just a few clicks away from today's host, Lejarreta's beloved Berriz.

Photo: Iñaki Azanza

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