Gerrans sprints to third place on the opening stage of Vuelta al Pais Vasco

Mon 3 Apr 2017

Former Australian champion Simon Gerrans sprinted to third place for ORICA-SCOTT on the opening stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco today.

The fairly short 153kilometre first stage of the six-day Basque race was animated by a breakaway of three riders, escaping within the first 10kilometres of the stage and remaining out front until just 15kilometres to go.

After a few late attacks in the final kilometres, the day concluded with a bunch sprint in Eguesibar-Sarriguren which was won by Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb). 

ORICA-SCOTT worked hard in the final kilometres to position Gerrans well for the chaotic sprint, whilst also looking after their general classification hopeful Simon Yates.

Sport director Neil Stephens was happy with the team performance and the result on the fairly straight forward stage.

“It was a pretty straight forward with the breakaway ahead for most of the day,” said Stephens. “Sunweb took on the chase, so good on them being able to finish it off with a win.”

“The object for us today was to get through the stage unscathed, and get through the tricky technical section at six kilometres to go well placed.”

“We had to not only make sure the guys where in good position to try for the sprint, but also to make sure Simon Yates was well looked after and in a good position as well.

“Once we got through this section we could then really focus on having a go with Gerrans for the sprint. 

Michael Alabsini did a great lead out, unfortunately Gerrans was pushed off his wheel, which is just something that can sometimes happen in bunch finishes. He had to come from around 10 back and try and do well.

“Unfortunately we didn’t win the stage but everybody definitely carried out their roles well today and in the end it was a fair and just winner and we have to be content with third place today.”

How it happened:

The first stage of Vuelta al Pais Vasco began with three riders attacking and riding away within the first five kilometres of the stage.

Igor Anton (Dimension-Data), Bagot Yoann (Cofidis) and Lluis Mas Bonet (Caja-Rural) worked well together, settling into a rhythm and eventually riding out to maximum advantage of four minutes.

With the peloton at a steady pace behind with no real rush, the trio animated the entire stage, only returning to the peloton with 15kilometres to go as the pace was lifted with 50kilometres remaining. 

ORICA-SCOTT came to the head of the bunch ahead of the fast, flat and technical finish which saw the roads, narrow with around six kilometres to go.

With positioning crucial in the closing stages, the peloton lined out on the twisty, tight roads and multiple riders took their chances attacking but never able to gain a sizeable advantage.

Recent winner of Gran Premio Miguel Indurain, Simon Yates was caught out and took a tumble within the final two kilometres. Thankfully with no real problems or injuries, he received a quick bike change and was able to cross the line to receive bunch time with it being within the final three kilometres of the stage.

Yesterday’s runner up in La Rioja, Swiss rider Albasini was the final ORICA-SCOTT rider left protecting Gerrans who navigated himself through the wheels and into third spot to conclude the day.

Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage one results:

1. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) 3:45:07
2. Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) ST
3. Simon Gerrans (ORICA-SCOTT) ST

General classification after stage one:

1. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) 3:45:07
2. Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) ST
3. Simon Gerrans (ORICA-SCOTT) ST

Photos courtesy of ©