Tour of the Basque Country – Stage 2 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of the Basque Country – Stage 2 Preview

By @EchelonsHub

In classic fashion, the GC riders completely swarm the race’s time-trial and create an all-out GC battle from day one. Primoz Roglic, the cannibal, has started off the race the same way he’s finished his last, in the yellow jersey. He’s beaten Remco Evenepoel by 5 seconds, the duo were ahead of the competition on another level as Cavagna finished 16 seconds back in third place. 

Positive: Roglic setting his lead in the race, which is unlikely to be lost until the finish. 

Negative: Alaphilippe, Higuita and Woods with bad times, even if the GC isn’t the goal for all of them.


The Route 

The first road stage of the Itzulia is an interesting one. It can have different scenarios, and the first is of a possible breakaway win as the start of the stage is quite hard and favourable for a strong group to go up the road. 

There is some rough climbing in the day but it comes in it’s first third. The last two thirds of the stage are not as complicated, but they do feature some climbing which may make things difficult for those looking to setup a sprint.

It won’t be steep, but nevertheless will be a 12.7Km-long climb which will summit with 29 kilometers to go, and then the final kilometers are very rolling which provide some terrain where attacks may happen. 900 meters at 6% with 8 kilometers to go, and then 900 meters at 5% with just 3 kilometers to go. It’s not an easy finale and attacks will come. Nevertheless the gradients will never be too high, and the slight downhill finale into a final uphill ramp to the line will make it hard to survive if there’s a fast-moving peloton behind.

The Weather

Cold temperatures but a sunny day on the forecast. There will be no wind, so it’s all about what the riders have in the legs. 

Breakaway chances: 30% 

Although this is a stage very well suited for a breakaway, Jumbo-Visma will not likely let any strong group go as they just don’t like to be on the backfoot. Even if it’s a modest group, there will not be a big leash given as Jumbo can lead the race from start to finish and despite the immense quality, there isn’t much that can be done against that. 

The Favourites 

UAE – With Alessandro Covi and Diego Ulissi they have options for a reduced finale in front, or a possible sprint. But also with the likes of Marc Soler, Davide Formolo and Jan Polanc are all riders who could succeed if they get a gap towards the finale, UAE have essentially a lineup where everyone is an option. 

Quick-Step – They won’t be riding for a sprint, but Julian Alaphilippe would likely not mind one since there are no real sprinters here. He, Evenepoel and several other riders in the team may shoot their shot in the final hills as they have cards to play and can succeed on that. 

Andrea Vendrame – Perhaps the only sprinter in the race? Ok I won’t take it that far, but at World Tour level yes, and he may luck out very much if AG2R and the peloton are able to control all the attacks that are to come. 

Nick Schultz – He’s been far from perfect this season so far, however on his best day he’s capable of sprinting towards a win here. BikeExchange will surely work for it, and the Australian can climb well so that won’t be an issue, controlling the finale will. 

Primoz Roglic – I mean… Every single stage he is a favourite, even though this is the one he’s not as much, he’s still one of the best sprinters in this field, plus there will be bonus seconds on the line. 

Breakaway possibilities and late attacks? Virtually a third of the peloton has a chance to be honest, as long as they luck out with the peloton not chasing. There is a race lead on offer so many will try for sure, besides KOM classification. Some riders like Luis Leon Sanchez, Bruno Armirail, Xabier Azparren and in mind as outsiders but more for late attacks, where the same situation applies, sense of opportunity will likely be more important than power. 

Aleksandr Riabushenko, Felix Grossschartner, Orluis Aular and Quinten Hermans are also cards on the table for a possible sprint. 

Prediction Time 

⭐⭐⭐Vendrame, Schultz, Covi 

⭐⭐Roglic, Evenepoel, Riabushenko, Aular, Alaphilippe 

⭐ Armirail, LL.Sanchez, Grossschartner, Q.Hermans 

I will go with Andrea Vendrame for the stage win, in a sprint. A lot can happen, the stage should be chaotic towards the finale with a flurry of attacks, and predicting who could get a winning gap is almost impossible as it’ll be a game of luck, the climbs are not hard to make actual differences. When doubts pile-on, think logical, if a sprint happens we have a candidate. 

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Rúben Silva

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