The peloton kept tight control of the today’s 149.5-kilometer long race from Zumarraga to Gorraiz, with the day’s four-rider breakaway unable to go more than two minutes 50 seconds up the road.
As well as two category three climbs, in the opening 50 kilometers of racing, stage two also included 4.6-kilometers of white dirt roads and approaching these challenging sections, the pace at the front of the peloton picked up significantly.
The breakaway was ultimately swept up by the strung-out chasing bunch with 52 kilometers to go, just before a sharp right-hand turn onto the first ‘sterrato’, which marked the start of a constantly rolling, and twisting, final run into the finish.
Ten kilometers later, the peloton had split with de la Parte and De Marchi making the front selection before Bevin and Koch joined them with the bunch partially coming back together just in time for the penultimate dirt road section inside the final 25 kilometers of the day.
A drag of around 600 meters up to the line, at a gradient of just over eight percent, was the riders’ final challenge and CCC Team was still represented by Bevin, de la Parte and De Marchi in the main bunch, which had shrunk in size once again, when the race started to wind up towards the finish inside five kilometers to go.
De Marchi, who is known for his aggressive style of racing and for grabbing any opportunities that present themselves, came quickly up the side of the peloton before launching a stinging attack approaching the flamme rouge.
The Italian’s move was quickly marked by the rest of the field who sense the potential danger it posed and in the end, the race came down to a brutal uphill sprint for the line.
After a good performance on the opening time trial yesterday and testing his legs late into today’s stage, De Marchi was able to hold onto his form to cross the line with the first group while Bevin and de la Parte lost contact slightly as the race intensified in the finale, finishing just over 20 seconds back.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Alessandro De Marchi:
“The stage was really stressful and really dangerous. It was almost on the limit for me really. Thinking about my performance though, I am happy with my feelings once again. I was able to always stay in the first bunch and even on the gravel roads I was feeling okay and the pace was really high on those sections. Astana Pro Team and Team Sky were really pushing so, it was hard just to stay with the main group but, I am happy I could do that because usually on a stage like this when there is a lot of stress, I suffer a bit more and today in the end, I had good feelings and good try something. I’m now looking forward to the next stages with positive feelings. Tomorrow is maybe the easiest day of the race and then it will be a fight to the end.”
Gabriele Missaglia, Sports Director:
“It was a crazy stage today with a lot of technical sections as well as the challenging dirt roads but overall, I think the team did well today and going into the final we still have De Marchi, de la Parte, and Bevin in the first group.”
“De Marchi made a good move and he looked strong when he tried to attack in the last few kilometers. It was a nice move. Maybe it wasn’t the right moment to try something but it was still good to see him attacking.”
“We were active on today’s stage and I think we will look to keep racing like that. I am also happy at the end of today’s stage that all of our guys got through it safely without any crashes because there was a lot of nerves out there in the final 60 kilometers or so.”
Itzulia Basque Country
Stage two: Zumarraga > Gorraiz (149.5 km)
Top 3: 1. Julian Alaphillipe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) 2. Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto – Soudal) 3. Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)
CCC Team Top 3: 37. Alessandro De Marchi 42. Victor de la Parte 44. Patrick Bevin