Today in the Itzulia Basque Country, Alex Aranburu picked up his first WorldTour victory in his home region.
After some action on the final climb of La Asturiana, Astana saw their opportunity to make their numbers count in the run-in to the finish. Omar Fraile was the first to make a move, doing so with about 10.5 kilometers to go.
Fraile was very quickly reeled in by Bora, but he set the table perfectly for his teammate. As soon Fraile was caught, Aranburu launched a counterattack that immediately got him a gap.
A combination of wet weather and twisting roads meant that the conditions were far from ideal for chasing. Aranburu capitalized on this, extending his gap to 40 seconds with three kilometers to go.
The chasers started to make up ground inside the final kilometer, but Aranburu held on to win by a margin of 15 seconds.
Astana’s day got even better when Fraile, the man who kicked off the winning move, outsprinted the rest of the chasers to finish second. Tadej Pogačar grabbed the final podium spot, picking up a few valuable bonus seconds in the process.
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After two stages, Primož Roglič remains in the overall lead. Aranburu’s stage win bumps him up from ninth to second, while Brandon McNulty slides down one spot to third.
Pogačar’s bonus seconds give him a four second buffer over fellow race favorite Adam Yates.
Max Schachmann, Jonas Vingegaard, Omar Fraile, Wilco Kelderman and Pello Bilbao round out the rest of the top ten.
Other contenders who are outside the top ten but still within touching distance include Alejandro Valverde, Mikel Landa, Sergio Higuita, Michael Woods and David Gaudu.
The Road Ahead
All four remaining stages feature punchy terrain similar to what we saw today. As a result, the GC situation will continue to shift as the race unfolds throughout the week.
The parcours in the Basque Country are perfect for Primož Roglič. However, he was left somewhat isolated by his Jumbo-Visma teammates today.
If this trend continues deeper into the race, there will be plenty more opportunities for riders to capitalize on.
Sunday’s stage six is the final day of racing. It may also end up being the most significant in terms of deciding an overall winner. The riders will take on three category one climbs and four additional categorized climbs to conclude the week of racing.
The climbing from the get-go could mean that teams looking to control the race may have difficulty preventing a dangerous breakaway from going up the road.
In any event, the team leaders will have to remain attentive and bring their A game if they would like to emerge victorious at the end of this exciting race.
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