photo credits @ Vuelta a Pais Vasco
Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing) won the 2nd stage of this year’s Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, after emerging victorious from a bunch sprint today.
As Etixx-Quick-Step was vying to set-up their sprinter, Gianni Meersman, so was Orica-GreenEdge, who seized control of the sprint, after moving their man Michael Matthews to the front. However, a perfectly executed last minute surge by Felline, caught the Australian rider off-guard – to claim the victory.
“I provided something of a surprise, and that’s nice,” said Felline. “I haven’t won for a long time, especially from a sprint. I knew I was in decent shape. I won a time trial recently [Critérium International, stage 2], so I’ve got good legs … It’s about using them. To be honest, I came here with the intention of winning something. Today I had my opportunity, and I took it.
“Today it was a dream, and I’m so happy.”
A small breakaway group containing, Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Soudal), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), and Sebastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling), got underway during today’s 175.4 kilometer stage from Bilbao to Vitoria-Gastiez – the longest of this year’s race.
From there, the escapees remained out front with a modest gap over the peloton, until they reached the final 15 kilometer mark, where they were caught during the final categorized climb.
As the race reached the summit of the Alto de Zaldiaran, teams began battling for position on the final descent.
Cannondale-Garmin’s Tom-Jelte Slagter was the first rider to try his luck, on the fast, sweeping descent of the Zaldiaran.
However, the peloton quickly closed down Slagter’s move during the final 2 kilometers.
From there, Etixx-Quick-Step took up the pace setting, followed by Europcar. But, with 1.5. kilometers left, Lotto-Soudal decided to take to the front, is hopes of edging out Etixx – and setting up their leader Matthews.
As the race headed into the final 500 meters, Orica-GreenEdge began moving Matthews up to the front. However, as the Australian rider began to wind up his sprint, Felline countered with a surprise acceleration to overtake him during the waning moments of the race.
Meanwhile, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) took third, while world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx – Quick Step) finished fourth, after being squeezed out during the finale.
Stage 2 Results
1 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing 4:32:32
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx – Quick-Step
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr
7 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
10 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx – Quick-StepGeneral
Classification after Stage 2
AUS 1 MATTHEWS, Michael (ORICA GreenEDGE) 8:29:39
POL 2 KWIATKOWSKI, Michal (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
ITA 3 FELLINE, Fabio (TREK FACTORY RACING)
POR 4 FARIA DA COSTA, Rui Alberto (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
FRA 5 REZA, Kévin (FDJ)
FRA 6 SIMON, Julien (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS)
ITA 7 AGNOLI, Valerio (ASTANA)
ESP 8 BILBAO LOPEZ DE ARMENTIA, Pello (CAJA RURAL-SEGUROS RGA)
ESP 9 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA)
CZE 10 VAKOC, Petr (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
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