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Down Under Classic. Luis Leon Sanchez is 8th in chaotic final

The Kazakh Astana Pro Team has opened its 2019 cycling season with the Down Under Classic, a criterium race on the streets of Adelaide, which traditionally precedes the first seasonal UCI WorldTour event Santos Tour Down Under. Astana tried to do this race quite aggressively: Manuele Boaro won an intermediate sprint and stepped on the final podium to get a prix as Luis Leon Sanchez was able to finish inside the Top-10 on 8th position.

- It was just a criterium, like a prologue before the main race. It was a very fast race, but I am happy with my form and the speed I could hold today, especially taking into account the heat here in Adelaide. The race was hard, a bit dangerous with a few crashes in the peloton close to the finish line. The last crash was in front of me, but I was able to avoid it. Of course, it was difficult to fight for the victory as this race suited much the real criterium specialists. But, in general I passed this day quite good and now let’s concentrate on the week which is coming, - said Luis Leon Sanchez.

Despite many attacks during 1 hour of racing in the East End of Adelaide, the peloton came together to the final 5 kilometers. Due to a very high pace of the group, a few crashes hit the peloton, impacting the final result. After a crash inside the last kilometer, a small group of riders split away, sprinting for the victory: the Australian Caleb Ewan was faster than the Slovak rider Peter Sagan. Luis Leon Sanchez was 8th, while Davide Ballerini finished 11th.

- Today we started our season. It was not an easy race, there are some crashes, but, fortunately, nobody of our riders was involved. Our plan was to help Davide Ballerini in the final sprint; inside the final km he was well positioned on the wheel of Viviani, but the last crash ruined his chances. Luckily, Davide avoided to crash, but he had to brake hard and it was late to follow the leaders. Anyway, Luis Leon Sanchez did a good final and entered the Top-10, while Manuele Boaro stepped on the race podium after winning an intermediate sprint. However, the team did a good race today, the atmosphere is nice here in Adelaide and we are looking forward to the main race next week, - added Lars Michaelsen, the sports director of Astana Pro Team.

Photo credit: © Tim De Waele/Getty Images

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