Vuelta al País Vasco (st. 1)
Quintana (9th), Herrada and Costa enter front group in inaugural stage of País Vasco; Beñat Intxausti loses 16 seconds after pile-up at summit of Alto de San Miguel
Aussie Simon Gerrans (OGE) claimed the day’s victory and the first leader jersey in the 53ª Vuelta al País Vasco after stage one covered 156km in and around Elgoibar, with six categorized climbs including the Alto de San Miguel (Cat. 2) just 7k from the finish. Gerrans outsprinted a short, 17-man elite group forming up at the end of the last ascent, with the two escapees of the day -Txurruka (CJR) and Didier (RLT) were the serious break after a 7-man featuring Ángel Madrazo was reeled back early in the stage- being caught shorly before. Movistar Team picked up the pace with 3k from the summit of San Miguel with José Herrada and make things harder for a bunch where the favourites took position before the twisty descent into the finish.
Right under the KOM banner, a crash happened in the front of the bunch, with the decisive break going ahead -Nairo Quintana, eventually 9th at the sprint, José Herrada and Rui Costa were part of the elite group- while some others were left behind, including most notably Beñat Intxausti. The pile-up, just near the Basque rider, did not cause him any physical problems but left him 16 seconds behind across the finish -four more than an outstanding Castroviejo- after his attempts to bridge back into the downhill. The ‘Itzulia’ will head on into its second stage on Tuesday, the flattest in the race with 170km en route to Vitoria and five minor climbs across the route.
REACTION / Beñat Intxausti: “I was quite unlucky because I wasn’t in bad position, but the guy in front of me lost control of his bike and though i could get past the bike, I didn’t avoid hitting him. I got back on the bike as fast as I could, but my chain was off and lost some places getting it back in, thus the time loss at the finish. We didn’t think it was going to be such a nervous stage, but the riders here seem to be up for the fight and no one is giving a meter’s space. Despite the crash, the sensations on the bike were good. Last Saturday’s GP Indurain was a hard race for me, but I could recover yesterday and felt better today. The team was really solid working at the front and taking us into good position, but sometimes you need good luck on your side, and I didn’t get it this time. At least, I didn’t hurt myself into the crash and did not lose all my chances, though we know that every second counts in this race. It was a hard day today and we hope tomorrow to be a bit easier.”