Hello again, CyclingTips readers,
The fourth stage of the Itzulia Basque Country offered yet another entertaining finale as the overall lead changed hands and the battle for the stage win was decided by only a few centimeters.
Read on for the latest from the world of cycling.
McNulty takes over the GC lead in the Basque Country as Izagirre wins stage 4
Brandon McNulty stormed to the top of the overall standings at the Itzulia Basque Country on Thursday as Ion Izagirre narrowly pipped Pello Bilbao to nab stage 4.
The 189.2 km stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Hondarribia gave the climbers another chance to shine with a pair of challenging ascents in the last 50 km of the day before a descent to a flat finish. The last two survivors of the early break, Ben O’Connor and Juan Pedro López, were reeled in on the final climb, and then attacks flew on the steep gradients.
Mikel Landa went off the front and was later joined by Esteban Chaves and McNulty. They were brought back to a much reduced pack near the top of the climb, but then Bilbao and Chaves fired off the front again on the descent, drawing Izagirre, McNulty, Emanuel Buchmann, and Jonas Vingegaard with them. Behind, overnight leader Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar went into chase mode at the head of a select group, but the six out front quickly built an advantage as they powered downhill and it soon became clear that there would be no catching the move.
With 5 km to go, the gap was up over 50 seconds. Buchmann tried to attack inside the last 2 km but was brought back. Chaves went just after the flamme rouge and managed to work his way to a gap, but Buchmann closed him down with a few hundred meters to go, and then Izagirre launched his sprint.
Bilbao very nearly overtook Izagirre at the line, and at first it wasn’t clear who had won, but further review confirmed that Izagirre had, in fact, held on for the stage victory ahead of Bilbao. McNulty hit the line in third, and with the chasers taking 49 seconds to arrive, the 23-year-old American jumped from third overall to the top of the standings. He takes a 23-second lead over Roglic into Friday’s stage 5.
Top 10, stage 4
1 IZAGIRRE Ion (Astana-Premier Tech) 4:17:07
2 BILBAO Pello (Bahrain Victorious)
3 MCNULTY Brandon (UAE-Team Emirates)
4 VINGEGAARD Jonas (Jumbo-Visma)
5 BUCHMANN Emanuel (Bora-Hansgrohe)
6 CHAVES Esteban (BikeExchange) 0:02
7 BEVIN Patrick (Israel Start-Up Nation) 0:49
8 KNOX James (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
9 HERMANS Quinten (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux)
10 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar)
Top 10, GC
1 MCNULTY Brandon (UAE-Team Emirates) 12:25:21
2 ROGLIC Primoz (Jumbo-Visma) 0:23
3 VINGEGAARD Jonas (Jumbo-Visma) 0:28
4 BILBAO Pello (Bahrain Victorious) 0:36
5 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates) 0:43
6 YATES Adam (Ineos Grenadiers) 1:02
7 BUCHMANN Emanuel (Bora-Hansgrohe) 1:07
8 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar) 1:13
9 IZAGIRRE Ion (Astana-Premier Tech) 1:15
10 LANDA Mikel (Bahrain Victorious) 1:23
Woods does not start stage 4 of the Itzulia Basque Country after stage 3 crash
Mike Woods pulled out of the Itzulia Basque Country ahead of stage 4 after he crashed on Wednesday’s third stage.
The 34-year-old Canadian went down in a crash that also saw Wilco Kelderman hit the deck (and ultimately abandon the race) on the approach to the final climb. Woods remounted and finished the stage, but he did not start the race on Thursday.
“Pretty disappointed to have to abandon the race. I was on really good form and still am but I have to take a look at the bigger picture,” Woods said. “My big goals are the Ardennes and I just don’t want to make things worse. My hand’s pretty sore at the moment, so is my neck, and I just think it would be a bit of a risk to continue racing and a risk to the Ardennes. But I know I’ll be back and I know I’ll be feeling good in a few days, and I’ll be good for the Ardennes.”
Cofidis extends sponsorship arrangement, women’s team will have €1 million budget
The Cofidis team announced on Thursday that it has signed a new deal with its title sponsor that will see the French company’s commitment extend through 2025. As part of the new deal, the women’s squad that the team recently announced it would be launching next year will have a budget of €1 million.
“Our sports sponsorship reflects the image of the group and thus endeavors to give pride of place to diversity and parity,” said Thierry Vittu, Director of Human Resources, member of the Executive Committee, and Chairman of Cofidis Competition.
“We are going to devote a substantial budget to it – to the tune of one million euros per year – in order to be ambitious and as competitive as possible.”
The CPA is hoping for changes to the UCI’s water bottle disposal rules
As Sporza reports, the CPA is hoping to work to the UCI on the regulations surrounding the disposal of water bottles. New rules went into effect on April 1 that prevent riders from disposing of bottles outside of designated zones, with those who break those rules subject to serious penalties that include disqualification.
Staf Scheirlinckx, the Belgian CPA representative, told Sporza that the CPA is looking to discuss the situation further with the UCI.
“We stand behind severe penalties, but it must be proportionate to what happened,” Scheirlinckx told Sporza. “All those present at the CPA meeting felt that expulsion was going too far. Chairman Gianni Bugno will now put a proposal on paper and hopefully the UCI will join in a dialogue, because it is very important to the riders.”
Additional spots open for Dead Man Gravel
The inaugural edition of Dead Man Gravel will take place on July 31 of this year in and around Nederland, Colorado. The event will feature three different courses: a 66-mile Tungsten loop, a 41-mile Gold loop, and a 25-mile Silver loop.
More registration spots are opening up in the coming days. You can find out more here.
Coming Up …
The fifth stage of the Itzulia Basque Country will be another tough one to predict as the peloton will take on three third-category climbs and then head into a finale that features a few uncategorized rollers. It may not be a big GC day, but attackers could like their chances to stay clear in the final kilometers.
Meme of the Day
In case you missed it …
- As James Huang writes, MAAP has linked up with Suplest for a special version of its Edge+ shoe, now dubbed the Road Pro MAAP LTD.
- Caley Fretz has the latest on Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Turkmenistan and known fan of bicycles.
- Spotted in the background of an Instagram post from Bora-Hansgrohe rider Marcus Burghardt is what appears to be an upcoming S-Works Romin Evo Mirror saddle.
- A new video from Deceuninck-QuickStep offers an inside look at Kasper Asgreen’s Tour of Flanders victory.
- Abby Mickey, Loren Rowney, and Amy Jones chat with Gracie Elvin in the latest episode of the Freewheeling Podcast.
- As Iain Treloar writes, the European Track Cycling Championships are set to be held in Belarus, despite sanctions from the IOC and human rights concerns.