130km break for Basque rider, last survivor to Martin's attacks en route to Urdax; Alejandro (6th) again most offensive within GC riders in País Vasco
Though many of the favourites in the 2014 Vuelta al País Vasco are setting their sights in Thursday’s climb towards Arrate and Saturday’s TT showdown in Markina-Xemein, the Movistar Team promises to fight without a minute’s rest for all the remainder of the Itzulia, turned again into one of the most offensive blocks in day two of the race -155km between Ordizia and Urdax, with four rated climbs and several slopes in the finale-.
Gorka Izagirre made the day’s early, seven-man breakaway after 18km, together with Jungels (TFR), Dupont (ALM), Malacarne (EUC), Monfort (LTB) and who eventually were his main rivals for the win: the OPQS duo of Jan Bakelants and Tony Martin. With gaps always constant around 2.30, the lead group’s margin began to fall after the descent of Lizaieta (Cat-1), several teams looking to bring their sprinters into contention. With 20k and one minute left for the escapees, Martin launched an attack only Bakelants and the Basque rider from the telephone squad could follow.
A fight of two against one was bound to fall in the formers’ side, with Martin leaving Gorka behind after three moves he couldn’t ultimately respond to. Behind, into the last climb, Valverde tried to jump away twice as the main favourites followed him to keep things intact. However, the fast pace of the day strung out the group and left it to only 50 riders, with Herrada and Gadret joining Alejandro -still 2nd overall, 14secs behind Contador (TCS)- at 30″. Things shouldn’t change much tomorrow on the theoretically least hard day in the Basque stagerace, over 194km from Urdax to Vitoria.
Gorka Izagirre: “It was a fast race, really hard from the beginning. I could fulfil my objective for the start of the stage, which was getting into the break, and the next goal after that was contesting the win, but also making the leader’s team work, something important for us in view of the upcoming stages. I digged deep until the very end, but it wasn’t to be. When I was left alone with the two Omegas, I knew I would be in need of some breath because they would attack me one by one, but after getting through the first two moves, I had to surrender to the third. Alejandro is doing really great, really confident and we all are entirely devoted to him. Let’s hope tomorrow’s stage is a more calm one, so we can recover a bit before the last two road stages, which will be extremely important to get to the TT in good position.“