Stage 2 of the Tour of the Basque Country ended with a thrilling finale in Viana. The last rider from the morning breakaway was indeed caught in the very last kilometre and a bunch sprint eventually decided the stage victory. On the line, world champion Julian Alaphilippe got the win while David Gaudu safely crossed the line in eighth after a good support from his teammates all day long. Bruno Armirail remains seventh overall after two days of racing.

After an explosive opening time trial yesterday in the Tour of the Basque Country, the start of stage 2 was just as spicy as it was located at the bottom of a three-kilometre climb. This could have led to some lively first minutes, and yet. The first attempt made by four Spanish riders was the right one. Ibon Ruiz (Kern-Pharma), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Ibai Azurmendi (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took the lead from the first hundred metres and were let go straight away. From then on, their gap kept growing until reaching five minutes, before the leader’s teammates decided to take on the pace. However, it wasn’t until the last seventy-five kilometres that the bunch decided to speed up. The gap was therefore reduced to two minutes at the bottom of the last categorized climb of the day in Aguilar Gaina (12.6 km at 3.1%). At that point, David Gaudu was in the forefront of the peloton, alongside his teammates. “The goal today was obviously to support David the best we could and to get organized as a team from day one,” said Philippe Mauduit. “They stayed alert at the front in the crucial points and they did exactly what they had to do”.

At the top of this last climb, thirty kilometres from the finish, the leading quartet only had a lead of one minute and thirty seconds. However, the peloton slowed down slightly, and the gap grew to two minutes with fifteen kilometres to go. In a thrilling finale, the bunch eventually accelerated at the very last moment and managed to catch Ibon Ruiz, the last man standing, 500 meters from the line. In a perfect position in the home straight, Julian Alaphilippe won the sprint while David Gaudu secured his place in the day’s top-10 (8th). “We knew that the sprint was slightly uphill, with three right-angle turns and a roundabout just before”, explained Philippe Mauduit. “It was necessary to be positioned to avoid any stupid split. You always need to be careful in this kind of final. There is always a risk that one or two riders will sit up and cause a split that costs several seconds. Also, it was not a dangerous final, so we had to go for it. David was brought in the front ahead of the sprint and just followed the first wheels until the end. Eventually, it is a nothing to report-kind of day”.

Bruno Armirail also reached the finish within the main group and remained seventh in the general classification. The latter could potentially change a bit tomorrow towards Amurrio. “It’s going to be a tough day”, said Philippe. “There are almost 3,500 meters of elevation gain and I think it will leave a mark”.

No comment