Vuelta al País Vasco (st. 2)
El vasco de Movistar Team, único junto a Gorka Izagirre en responder a unos superiores Alaphilippe (1º) y Roglic (2º) en San Pelaio, escala posiciones en la general de la ‘Itzulia’ y se sitúa a 4″ del podio.
Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) recovered from a really difficult day in the opening stage of the 2018 Vuelta al País Vasco 2018 and showed on Tuesday’s stage two that he’s got many things to show in this year’s Itzulia. The Basque climber responded well to all moves from Quick Step and GC leader Julian Alaphilippe at the steep climb of San Pelaio (Cat-2), end of a very demanding 166km stage two starting in Zarautz, to take a fine 4th place in Bermeo after crazy speeds all stage long.
Following a very violent start to the stage, with an opening 60 kilometers with no breakaway and even a bunch split into two due to strong coastal winds, the race favourites saved all their energy for the final ascent, at which both Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana -well supported by their team-mates with some good leadout to the foot of San Pelaio- had to face the two strong accelerations from QST, launching Enric Mas first before Alaphilippe’s strong, decisive counter.
The Frenchman opened a gap which only three other riders could close: Primoz Roglic (TLJ), Gorka Izagirre (TBM) and Landa, whose group ammassed a 15″ advantage they would keep all the way to the finish line. The move allows Mikel stepping up onto 4th overall, 43″ behind Alaphilippe, with Quintana now just behind the top-ten (11th, +58″). Wednesday will offer a bit of a break to all contenders as sprinters go for their only chance in the Itzulia, the end of the 184km stage three to Villanueva de Valdegovía containing no significant ascents.
REACTION / Mikel Landa:
“Today’s feeling is quite more optimistic than yesterday’s. I knew I was coming to this race in good form, and what happened on Monday was simply the result of a bad day – there’s nothing else we must elaborate from that. I’m happy with this result and these legs, and even though we know that we will lose time on Thursday’s time trial, there will still be two demanding stages remaining, where we’ll give our maximum, play our two cards and seek for the goal we came for, or at least finish this race with a good result. They should be nervous ones, routes where we could get people into the breaks and find some alliances with other teams to improve our position overall. Alaphilippe? Well, we know him well, he usually excels on such short, explosive uphill finishes, and the race so far has been all about keeping both him and Roglic close. Let’s see how things stand after the TT and what can we do.”
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport