Itzulia (st. 2) / La Sarthe (st. 1)
Albasini (ORS) prevails as 'Bala' climbs into fifth overall, remains focused on País Vasco day two before first serious climbs en route to Donostia on Wednesday. Bennati 11th at La Sarthe opener
The Movistar Team worked solvently on stage two of the Vuelta al País Vasco -173km between Pamplona and Elciego-, finishing half an hour behind its intermediate schedule with Michael Albasini (ORS) victorious in the finishing sprint and another Michael -Matthews (SUN)- still in yellow. Moreno, De La Parte, Herrada, Pedrero and, most notably in the finale, Sutherland and Gorka Izagirre covered Alejandro Valverde, always keeping the front of the bunch and even giving a try at the bunch kick.
Bala crossed the line in 7th place, which, combined with Monday's 16th spot –she's been only once outside the top-20 in his first 19 racing days of the 2017 season-, takes him up to fifth overall, only behind Matthews and three pure sprinters -Richeze (QST), De Bie (LTS) and Schwarzmann (BOH)-. The Spaniard is likely to improve his situation as Wednesday brings the first real mountains in this year's 'Itzulia': 160km from Vitoria to San Sebastián with six rated climbs at Udana (Cat-3), Mandubia (Cat-2), Santa Águeda (Cat-1), Alkiza (Cat-3), Andarrazate (Cat-3) and Mendizorrotz (Cat-3), the latter just 10km from the end.
La Sarthe: Unavoidable crashes, minor bruises for Arcas, Barbero
Tuesday brought another race into the Movistar Team's program for a packed month of April, the Blues kicking off the 65th Circuit de la Sarthe with a rainy, 173km loop around Pouzauges, which Daniele Bennati completed in 11th place. Justin Jules (WBC) claimed a resounding victory into a lumpy, twisty closing circuit, where both Carlos Barbero and Jorge Arcas suffered respective crashes, fruit of the speed and the wet roads, which don't jeopardize their continuity in the race as only minor bruises were sustained. Jonathan Castroviejo and Alex Dowsett, as well as 'Benna', will seek to shine on Wednesday, a double sector including a 100km morning RR followed by a 6.8km afternoon TT in Angers.
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport