Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Daryl Impey repeats his 2012 stage two Vitoria sprint
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Daryl Impey repeats his 2012 stage two Vitoria sprint

by Ben Atkins at 11:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Vuelta al Pais Vasco
South African takes the win but lead passes to Francesco Gavazzi

daryl impeyDaryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) continued his teams perfect start to the 2013 Vuelta al Pais Vasco as he outsprinted the peloton at the end of the second stage between Elgoibar and Vitoria-Gasteiz. The South African was led out perfectly by his team, which took control of the bunch in the final kilometre, and managed to repeat his victory in the same town, and the same stage, of the 2012 race.

Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) was second across the line, having sat behind Impey in the finishing straight but been unable to come around, with Angel Vicioso (Katusha) repeating his third place from the following day.

“It’s a fantastic win,” said Impey afterwards. “It was a bit like last year, really. The whole team was involved with the result. Christian [Meier] and [Michael] Albasini did all of the early work. Wes [Sulzberger], Clarkey [Simon Clarke] and Pieter Weening did their bit in the final. From there, I had two of the fastest guys in the race as my lead out.

“We talked a lot this morning about who we’d race for in the sprint – me or Michael [Matthews],” Impey added. “The two of us share a lot of similar qualities as sprinters, and either of us would have given up our chances for the other. We started the day intending to work for me, and mid-way through the race, I confirmed that I was feeling really good, so we stuck with that decision.

“Most of the job was already done by the time I started my sprint,” he added. “I was in a great position, and I had a really good legs. When you have the guy in the yellow jersey doing the lead out, it really highlights the team’s commitment to one another.”

The one negative for Orica-GreenEdge at the finish was that, since yellow jersey Simon Gerrans had played a big part in Impey’s lead out, the Australian lost his race lead at the end. With no time bonuses on the line, Gavazzi - who had been fourth on stage one - took over the lead thanks to having consistently the best placings in the two stages so far.

Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) formed the 170km stage’s main breakaway, after he broke away alone in the first ten kilometres of the stage. The Basque rider, who had been half of the two-man break the previous day, was allowed to get a maximum of 5’27” clear before the combined efforts of Orica-GreenEdge and Movistar pulled him back.

In the final 30km of the stage Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) counterattacked and caught up with the lone rider, when he was just one minute ahead. Malori attacked on the final climb with 15km to go, and was joined by Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Jose Herrada (Movistar), but the peloton was back together with just over four kilometres to go.

Once the breakaway was over there were no serious attempts to escape the peloton in the final kilometres, and Orica-GreenEdge led Impey to the line.

Txurruka goes alone and extends his mountains jersey lead

Txurruka - clad in the red and white polka-dot mountains jersey - managed to jump clear after less than ten kilometres and, as the peloton watched him go, was 3’40” ahead as he topped the 2nd category Alto de Elgeta after 18.8km. At the 47km point, just before he led over the 2nd category Alto de Gatzaga, the Caja Rural rider was 4’53” clear and, following the descent, his lead reached its maximum of 5’27” at 63km.

The gap began to fall a little on the long, rolling section on the approach to the next climb, and was down to 4’10” at the 80km point. With no desire to catch the lone leader yet, however, his advantage was allowed to start to grow again; after 95km it was up to 5’03”, but then began to fall again.

With 70km to go it began to rain which, at first simply had the effect of dampening the road, but it was to come and go as the stage finale headed towards the hills.

As Txurruka arrived at the foot of the 3rd category Alto de Vitoria, with just over 60km to go, his lead was down to 3’30”, but this began to creep up again as the peloton slowed and spread across the road. Many riders were putting on rain jackets, and the pace dropped as domestiques collected them from team cars.

Over the top with 56km to go, as the rain began to fall more heavily, Txurruka was 3’43” ahead of the peloton; although his Caja Rural teammate Andre Cardoso had jumped a few seconds clear to take second place and protect Txurruka’s mountains lead.

On the descent and plateau that followed the climb, the Orica-GreenEdge team began to lift the pace and quickly eat away at Txurruka’s lead. Through the meta volante intermediate sprint, in Treviño with 44.2km to go, it was down to just 2’36”, where Cardoso again took second place, ahead of Laurent Didier (RadioShack-Leopard), Txurruka’s breakaway companion from stage one who was wearing the orange meta volante jersey; the gap then stabilised as the peloton began to ease up again.

Into the final 35km Saxo-Tinkoff took over the head of the peloton suddenly increased the pace; Euskaltel-Euskadi soon joined the Danish team, and with 30km to go Txurruka’s lead dropped to less than a minute.

A counterattack comes but the sprinters will not be denied on the late climb

As the climb to the 3rd Alto de San Martin began Voigt and Malori attacked and began to close in on the lone leader. They were 26 seconds behind Txurruka over the top of the climb, with the peloton now at 56 seconds.

With 24.5km to go Voigt and Malori caught Txurruka; the Basque rider was just able to jump onto the back wheels of the two rouleurs as they sped by, but had to fight to hold on.

Saxo-Tinkoff eased off the pace, which allowed the leading trio’s advantage to stretch out to more than a minute. Astana, Orica-GreenEdge and BMC Racing soon moved forward and took responsibility, however, and began to close it again.

Txurruka jumped away from the other two to take the points in the Trebiño meta volante, as the leaders passed through the town for a second time with 17km to go. The others soon caught up with the Basque afterwards, however, and BMC Racing led the peloton over the line 54 seconds later.

With 15km to go, at the foot of the climb to the 3rd category Alto de Zaldiaran, the three leaders were just 45 seconds clear. Voigt and Malori were doing all the work, with Txurruka hanging on at the rear, but as the climb began in earnest Malori attacked and left them both behind.

BMC Racing and Astana were still leading the peloton, but several other teams were beginning to swarm forward; Txurruka drifted back to the bunch, and was passed with 11km to go, but Voigt was fighting his way back up to Malori’s wheel.

The big German was forced to let the Italian rider go as he neared the top; he was still resisting the peloton with ten kilometres to go, but was passed as Team Sky, Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff accelerated past.

As he raced over the top, with 9.2km to go, Malori was just 12 seconds clear, and the peloton was strung out in a long line behind him. Despite the peloton’s speed Bardet and Herrada managed to tear themselves clear in pursuit of Malori, and joined up with the Lampre-Merida ride with seven kilometres to go.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) also managed to break clear, with Sergio Henao (Team Sky) on his wheel, but they were quickly reeled in by Astana. The Kazakh team also had the three leaders in sight very quickly, and the race was all together again with four kilometres to go.

Astana kept the speed high, but was overtaken by Orica-GreenEdge as they entered the outskirts of Vitoria. Gerrans himself took over into the final kilometre, leading Michael Matthews who had Impey behind him; Gavazzi and Vicioso were tucked in behind but, as the Suth African opened up his sprint, nobody could get close to coming past as he hit the line.

Gavazzi could console himself with the yellow jersey, however, with his fourth and second places deemed better than Vicioso's two thirds.

Result stage 2
1. Daryl Impey (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Team Astana
3. Angel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha Team
4. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
5. Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
6. Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
7. Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Egoitz Garcia (Spa) Cofidis
9. Maciej Paterski (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step

Standings after stage 2
1. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Team Astana
2. Angel Vicioso (Spa) Katusha Team
3. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Astana
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
6. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
7. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky
9. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team
10. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team


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