Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Bad luck ruins Alaphilippe’s chances
A puncture he suffered three kilometers from the finish at a moment he was leading the race stopped the Frenchman from fighting for victory on the opening day.
Riding the Vuelta al Pais Vasco for the first time in his career, Julian Alaphilippe animated the closing phases of stage 1, attacking on a small drag just as the roads was narrowing and the peloton was preparing for a bunch sprint in Sarriguren, on the outskirts of Pamplona, from where the riders took off in the noon.
Over the top of the unclassified climb, the 24-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider had a five-second margin, but he stretched it out to more than ten seconds taking advantage of the fact the chasers weren't committed. Unfortunately, with just 3.1 kilometers left, Julian had a flat and was quickly reabsorbed by the peloton; also due to this incident, he conceded more than two minutes at the end of the day, an important blow to his general classification aspirations.
The stage eventually concluded with a bunch gallop, and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) took the spoils ahead of Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott). Maximiliano Richeze was the one who carried the flag for Quick-Step Floors and the Argentinean, who recently returned to competition after the injury he picked up in Strade Bianche, came sixth in Sarriguren.
Stage 2 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco will run from Pamplona to Eltziego, and its hilly course in the last 20 kilometers, together with a 3km-long descent, could make for an intriguing finish.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele