Lone Breakaway Survivor Wins Second Stage of Vuelta Pais Vasco

Tue 8 Apr 2014

ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Michael Matthews sprinted to eighth place from the chasing bunch in Dantxarinea. Thirty seconds earlier, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quick-Step) had crossed the finish line alone to claim victory on the second stage of Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Matthews sprint slotted him into ninth place on the stage.

Martin was part of the early breakaway of seven riders that formed inside the opening 30 kilometres. The German was joined up the road by his teammate Jan Bakelants, Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Belisol) and David Malacarne (Europcar).  With Jungels only 4’15 down on the overall and Martin’s individual time trialling prowess, the early escape was never afforded a long leash. Tinkoff-Saxo allowed them less than a three minutes maximum advantage.

“With a guy that was 4’15 on the general classification, Tinkoff-Saxo couldn’t afford to let the break go too far out, which was good for us,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “We started chasing with about 60-70 kilometres left to race."

“We brought it back slowly over the first category climb and continued to do the work necessary to shut down the move,” continued Stephens. “When the gap fell to under a minute, Sky started to collaborate with us and BMC put a couple guys on the front as well, which was when Tony Martin put it into overdrive and attacked the break.”

Izagirre and Bakelants were the only two able to respond to Martin’s acceleration. The multiple time world champion in the individual time trial wasted no time in tucking into an aero position and drilling it on the front of the group of three. Izagirre and Bakelants clung to Martin’s wheel until Bakelants opened up a gap, forcing Izagirre to bridge the distance or fall off pace. Izagirre responded to the first challenge but could not respond when Martin lifted the pace a second time.

Alone, Martin stretched out his advantage to 1’10 before the peloton finally began to make headway, halving Martin’s advantage before the finish line. Ben Swift (Team Sky) won the bunch kick for second place ahead of Michael Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) in third.

“We were obviously aware that Tony was a dangerous guy to have in the break and the group as a whole was really strong,” Stephens readily admitted. “We tried to time it right and bring it back at the right moment but what can you do?”

“The tactical decision we made felt right at the time,” Stephens added. “We could have used up all our guys to bring it back earlier only to have someone attack in the last three kilometres – and we would have had no one left to cover. We did what we could do, and it wasn’t enough to bring back one guy.”

“The boys did everything right today,” Stephens concluded. “I congratulated them on their work. They’re going much better than they were yesterday, and they’re highly motivated. They followed the tactics we outlined. All you can do on a day like today is take your hat off to Tony Martin.”