Orica stays perfect at Basque Country with Impey’s stage 2 win

Simon Gerrans loses his overall lead but Orica-GreenEdge stays perfect at the Tour of the Basque Country

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Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) triumphed in stage 2 of Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) on Tuesday.

It was the second victory for Orica at the six-day race, with Simon Gerrans taking stage 1. Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) finished second and Angel Vicioso (Katusha) took third in the 170km stage from Elgoibar to Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Gavazzi seized the overall race lead from Gerrans; Vicioso is second and Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is in third. Gerrans dropped to seventh in the GC standings.

“The team demonstrated great teamwork again. We made our plan and stuck to it,” Orica-GreenEdge sport director Neil Stephens said. “Simon and then Michael [Matthews] worked for Impey to bring him in perfect position for the sprint. We’ll keep fighting for the GC, but there are some big riders here. We’ll see what happens in the next two days.”

The stage 2 course featured five rated climbs but was otherwise flat. The final climb was a Cat. 3 that peaked with 9.2km left. After that, a twisty descent into the finishing town took the riders into the flat finish.

GC contenders stay close

Several of the top GC contenders remain within striking distance. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) is fourth, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is fifth, and Richie Porte (Sky) is eighth. American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) sits in 10th, while Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) is 13th. All of those riders have the same time as the race leader.

Defending champion Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskaltel) remains five seconds behind and is in 21st place.

“It was a calmer day than [Monday], but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t tension or that we didn’t go fast,” said Contador, a two-time winner of the race. “There were a lot of teams interested in arriving for the sprint, so we didn’t have to do any work. Tomorrow’s climb is not terribly difficult, but it will be a chance to see where everyone is. There is one kilometer very steep at the end, so it’s more like a classics climb. We’ll give it a go and see what happens.”

Txurruka breaks free, again

As was the case during Monday’s first stage, Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) spent most of his day at the front of the race – this time by himself. He surged ahead of the main field and rode solo until 24.5km remaining, when two riders — Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) — who had broken away from the peloton caught him.

But the trio did not remain in front for much longer. Txurruka fell back and was caught by the peloton with 11km left, while Voigt joined him shortly after that. Malori managed to stay in front until the 7km mark, when a two-man counter-attack of Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Jesus Herrara (Movistar) caught him on the twisty descent into the finish.

With 3km left, the entire field was together.

The race continues Wednesday with stage 3, a 168km route from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Trapagaran.

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