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by Mark Zalewski
April 5, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Albasini wins sprint on second stage of Pais Vasco, Matthews retains lead; Jules wins Circuit Cycliste Sarthe opener; Carpenter, Winder win Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas; Flanders champ Gilbert to skip Paris-Roubaix; Naesen taking aim at Paris-Roubaix; Sinkeldam tapped for Sunweb in Paris-Roubaix; Leopold König unable to race Giro due to injury; Scheldeprijs set to honour Boonen in his final Belgian race; Keagan Girdlestone completes first race as recovery continues to go well; Chris Hoy looking to ride across Antartica; Video: Meet Sarah Hammer; Video: Ride. Run. Play. Episode 1; Video: High Country Charity Ride.
Michael Albasini (ORICA-Scott) took the sprint win on the second stage of Pais Vasco, in a bike throw ahead of Ariel Richeze (Quick-Step Floors) and Sean de Bie (Lotto-Soudal). Race leader Michael Mathews (Sunweb) was in the mix, finishing fourth, and retains his lead.
“We decided around 25 kilometres to go that I would try the sprint today,” Albasini said. “I was looking before the race on the satellite pictures and for me it was pretty clear that we wouldn’t change position much in the final 300-400 metres. When the guys attacked in the final I went straight away and we didn’t change position much so that was the key to winning today.”
Luis Mate (Cofidis) and Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) were the main break of the day, with the pair dealt a tough challenge with a headwind for most of the day. Behind them Igor Anton (Dimension Data) attacked at 62km to go, with KOM leader Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) joining Anton to protect his jersey. But that move was tracked by the peloton.
An uncategorised climb around 30km to go was the final nail in the coffin for the break. The peloton allowed them a few more kilometres as it was also affected by the headwins — but at 20km to go, with a sprint on the horizon, the peloton finally went to work. With the group closing Mate decided to go it alone, but with only a 30 second advantage, he was only delaying the inevitable and likely seeking the combativity award.
At 15km to go with Mate caught Quick-Step Floors went to the front and drove the pace. This caused the other teams to respond with their own trains and neutralising each other as the group spread wide across the large highway. As the course shifted to narrower roads, the peloton lined out a little more with Movistar taking over the front working for Alejandro Valverde. At 7km to go a short, steep climb up to the citadel outside of town sapped the legs, with the subsequent descent into town lining the peloton into single file at full speed. Into the finish LottoNL-Jumbo’s Paul Martens tried to go from a long way out, but he swung a little too wide on the curving finish and the group came by on his inside with Albasini taking the win with a bike throw.