Since he last won on the Xorret de Cati, Eladio Jimenez has spent two long periods out of racing won
PICTURE BY LAVUELTA.COM There have been several times since he won the Vuelta stage on the Xorret de Cati in the 2000 race that Eladio Jimenez has wondered whether he would ever take a big win again. Then racing for Banesto, 1994 world junior road race bronze medallist Jimenez seemed destined for great things as a climber and formed a notable part of Spain’s ‘generation of 76’ that also includes Igor Astarloa, Oscar Freire, Pablo Lastras, Paco Mancebo and Oscar Sevilla. While all that illustrious quintet have featured prominently in many of the major events on the calendar since 2000, Jimenez’s career has gone backwards because of two serious crashes. The first, in 2001, happened when he was training near Ciudad Rodrigo close to Spain’s border with Portugal. Hit by a car, the Spaniard was left with a displaced and broken vertebrae that led to subsequent back problems. Having fought his way back to fitness, he broke his femur his four places when descending from the Arrate summit after the finish of the Bicicleta Vasca. When ibanesto.com morphed into Illes Balears-Banesto at the start of this season, there was no place for Jimenez, who had been with the team since his amateur days, and he moved on to CV-Kelme. His victory on the Xorret de Cati yesterday once again underlined the astuteness of CV-Kelme boss in picking up talent unwanted elsewhere. Speaking to the press after his stage 10 victory, Jimenez said he had been lucky in the way he had come back from both crashes. “I was fortunate in that I recovered very well,” he said. “Winning here makes me very happy because it is almost impossible to win again at the same summit. I wasn’t expecting it. “Back in 2000 the Banesto team included Chava Jimenez, but he wasn’t feeling great that day, and that worked in my favour. That year I attacked from the group of favourites, but things have changed because I knew that I had no chance of winning if I stayed with the pack, the only way I could win was by getting into a break.” Although there was, in the end, no tribute to the late Chava Jimenez at the request of his widow, Eladio’s victory was very apt. The two were friends during their Banesto days and remain the only riders to have won on this summit.