Splits in the peloton on a tough opening stage in Vuelta al Pais VascoMon 2 Apr 2018
Australian Jack Haig was the highest place finisher for Mitchelton-SCOTT today on a hard opening stage of Vuelta al Pais Vasco coming in 17th place.
A final brutally steep climb, just six kilometres from the finish created huge splits within the peloton. Julian Alaphilppe (Quickstep-Floors) rode away with Primoz Roglic (Lotto-Jumbo) on the steep slopes to claim the stage win and move into the overall lead.
In the first five kilometres of the 162kilometre stage, four riders Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural), Ibai Salas (BurgosBH), Aitor Gonzalez (Euskatel) and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Dimension-Data) attacked away from the peloton and opened up a four minute maximum advantage.
Inside 75kilometres to go, two riders bridged across to the leaders as their lead dropped to just one minute, however, with 26kilometres to go as they started the penultimate climb of the day the catch was finally made.
Steep decisive climb
Soon after on the penultimate climb, Jack Haig tried an attack but was rapidly shut down by Team Sky who lined out on the front and drew the Australian back in as they set the tempo heading towards the final main climb of the day.
As expected on the Elkano Gaina climb with nine kilometres to go, with sections as steep as 20percent and on narrow roads, the fireworks came.
Primo Roglic (LottoJumbo), Julian Alaphilppe (Quickstep-Floors) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) distanced the significantly reduced peloton, before Quintana dropped off the pace and the pair worked to remain 20seconds ahead until the finish line to take the top two spots.
Haig pushed on hard behind and crossed the line as the highest placed finisher for the team, in the third group on the road in 17th place at 51seconds.
“The final climb was super hard, it isn’t really a climb that suits me that well being so steep and going up in ramps. It has been a while since I’ve had to go as deep as I did on that climb. I felt pretty good all day, it was a pretty easy day in terms of a small break going and Movistar and Bahrain taking control of the race.”
“On the penultimate climb, I knew I probably didn’t have the legs or ability to stay with the guys on the steep final climb so I though I could test the waters if I attacked and if I could take some one with me. As soon as I attacked and looked behind and saw Team Sky were on the front setting a hard tempo, then I sat up and slotted back in towards the front, as I knew positioning would be crucial down the descent going into the final climb.”
“The team that we have here is fairly young, like we have Lucas Hamilton which is his first WorldTour race and Damien Howson is coming back after some injuries. Damo is going well considering his time off racing, Carlos Verona and Rob Power have shown recently in the races they have good form and everyone performed super well. The guys were always positioned super well, so I think we can have a really nice week with the team we have here.”
Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage one results:
1. Julian Alaphilppe (Quickstep-Floors) 4:17:47
2. Primoz Roglic (LottoJumbo) ST
3. Pello Bilbao (Astana) +0:23
17. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:51
General classification after stage one:
1. Julian Alaphilppe (Quickstep-Floors) 4:17:36
2. Primoz Roglic (LottoJumbo) +0:04
3. Pello Bilbao (Astana) +0:29
Photo courtesy of Getty Images