Some sprinters caught the back of the break of six but it was too late for them to thwart the Ecuadorian, who crossed the line ahead of Natnael Tesfazion (Lidl-Trek) and Isaac Del Toro (UAE Team Emirates), with fellow break rider Harry Sweeny (EF Education-EasyPost) just missing out on the podium at the criterium on the 1.35km circuit in central Adelaide.
“Really I didn’t expect the breakaway to survive today …. but it was important to never lose the motivation to win the race,” said Narváez.
It was a close call with the six break riders, which also included Gil Gelders (Soudal QuickStep) and Oscar Onley (dsm-firmenich PostNL). They hit the finish line just before Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) won the bunch sprint to take seventh.
“That was the plan, to make the sprint for Elia, but I was in the front and in the end it was a bit easier to stay in the front than come from the back,” said Narváez.
The one hour and one lap race started and finished on Wakefield Street, in central Adelaide, near the Tour Village and the Hilton hotel were riders and staff stay.
Last year’s criterium winner, Caleb Ewan, was surprisingly absent after suffering i the heat during training but is expected to line-up at the Tour Down Under on Tuesday.
The criterium kicked off with an attack from veteran Bauke Mollema (Lidl-Trek). He was soon caught and for 30 minutes attacks came and were caught as riders blew away some cobwebs, shook out any remains of their jet lag and tried to animate the race.
Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step) spent a lap off the front but Bora-Hansgrohe took control for new sprinter Sam Welsford, with few other teams willing to help them.
The break formed at the midpoint of the race, with Del Toro attacking again after already taking an early intermediate sprint. The young Mexican clearly had orders to make a name for himself on his professional debut.
Narváez joined Del Toro on the attack, as did Jack Rootkin-Gray (EF Education-EasyPost), Gil Gelders (Soudal Quick-Step) and Oscar Onley (dsm-firmenich PostNL), then Natnael Tetsfazion and Harry Sweeny (EF Education-EasyPost) jumped across too.
Bora-Hansgrohe let them go and so a team pursuit match began.
The break never opened a gap of more than 15 seconds and the seven Bora domestiques struggled to close down the attackers.
The gap came…