Itzulia (st. 1)
Movistar Team perfectly in control on 'their' roads around Pamplona, kicking off the 2017 Vuelta al País Vasco on Monday; Valverde attacks in finale, takes 16th in Sarriguren
It was a day to enjoy for the Movistar Team on stage one of the 'Itzulia', the Tour of the Basque Country, 153km from Pamplona's Plaza del Castillo to Sarriguren and on the roads where one of the biggest legends in Spanish sport was conceived. The Blues were not that much relaxed, though, as they successfully tried to keep Alejandro Valverde in perfect position heading into the decisive stages of next weekend.
The Spaniard even dared to go on the attack as the group got shattered over a lumpy, poorly paved little climb 5km from the finish. Bala's attempt, caught just before the 'flamme rouge', proved the Blues' determination to fare well in the Vuelta al País Vasco, just as the finish placings -behind victor Michael Matthews (SUN)- did with Alejandro (16th), Rubén Fernández (13th) and Gorka Izagirre (19th) all inside the top 20. De la Parte, Pedrero, Moreno, Herrada and an in-form Rory Sutherland perfectly covered their team leader.
Tuesday will bring a 173km journey from Navarra's capital to Elciego. The early climbs to Etxauri (Cat-2) and La Aldea (Cat-3), as well as another tricky, narrow finale shouldn't be able to avoid the predictably last big-bunch sprint in the 'Itzulia', as the first real ascents show up on Wednesday, with six rated hills towards Donostia / San Sebastián.
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport