Brief ReportItalian Mario Traversoni, from Mercatone Uno, showed his speed in the final sprint to win the Clásica de Almería raced over 188 kms between Puebla de Vícar and Vera. It was the first time that the race didn't finish in the Almerian capital. Traversoni beat his compatriot Francesco Arazzi (Ros Mary Amica Chips) and Spaniard Oscar Freire (Vitalicio Seguros) in the sprint with an average speed of 39.151 km/h.
Halfway through the race the strong wind broke up the peloton into two groups. Prior to that the pace had been easy with the race running around 15 minutes behind the "slowest" scheduled estimate by officials.
On the first ascent of the Puerto de La Serrata, at km 97, the peloton started to increase the tempo and Francisco Cabello (Kelme) went over the top first. The climb was not difficult however. During the descent Martin Hvastija (Cantina Tollo) tried his luck alone and took the second special sprint, followed by Ljungquist and González, with a difference of almost 3 minutes.
At the climb of Mojácar, the Cantina rider only had a 27 second advantage over Alberto Leanizbarrutia. By the 167 km mark the race was back together. In the last kilometers the ones that worked the hardest were the sprinter's teams and the most astute was Italian Traversoni.
Puebla de Vícar - Vera, 188 kms:
1. Mario Traversoni (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Bianchi 4.48.07 (39.151) 2. Francesco Arazzi (Ita) Ros Mary - Amica Chips 3. Oscar Freire (Spa) Vitalicio Seguros 4. Marcel Wust (Ger) Festina 5. Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) Mercatone Uno-Bianchi 6. Marcus Zberg (Swi) Post Swiss Team 7. Angel Edo Alsina (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 8. Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 9. Massimo Strazzer (Ita) Cantina Tollo 10. Francisco José García (Spa) ONCE 11. Marco Pantani (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Bianchi 0.03
1993 Vjatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) 1994 Johan Capiot (Bel) 1995 Jean-Pierre Heynderickx (Bel) 1996 Wilfried Nelissen (Bel) 1997 Massimo Strazzer (Ita)
Mario from Berlin compiles the winner's lists