Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) claimed the overall win in the second edition of the Madrid Criterium by winning the road race and finishing second in the elimination race.
The world champion emerged from a group of six riders on the Calle Gran Vía circuit to win the road race in front of a crowd estimated at one thousand strong. Spanish stars Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) and Omar Fraile (Ineos Grenadiers) finished second and third respectively.
It was the first time in his professional career that Van der Poel lined up for a race in Spain.
“It’s really very nice to be here, with a lot of people. I enjoyed it and the atmosphere was good. The course was hard, very short and intense,” Van der Poel told the media after the event.
Though last year’s winner Tadej Pogačar did not take part in the event, his UAE Team Emirates teammates Ayuso and Marc Soler took the start for the 25 parade laps in the city centre
The small peloton also included fan favourites Luis Léon Sánchez (Astana Qazaqstan), Juan Pedro López (Lidl-Trek), Cristian Rodríguez (Arkéa-Samsic) and Movistar’s Oier Lazkano and Carlos Verona.
Sánchez, who is retiring after a 20-year professional career at the end of 2023, was celebrated by the riders who raised their bicycles in a guard of honour as he made his way to the start line. The Spanish stalwart’s palmares include 47 UCI victories and 31 Grand Tour appearances.
“It has been one of the most special moments of my career,” Sánchez told MARCA.
To the delight of fans, Sánchez nabbed the victory in the elimination race held on the same course ahead of Van der Poel and Lazkano before the road race.
In a celebration of cycling, fans lined up to get autographs from Van der Poel and Spanish cycling legend Alberto Contador at the Plaza del Calla on Sunday morning.