Tour of the Basque Country stage 2: Kiryienka goes it alone

Stage 2: Zumarraga to Lekunberri, 163km

Movistar‘s Vasil Kiryienka was rewarded for an attacking ride after he soloed off the front of a five-man break to take victory in Lekunberri. The 29-year old Belarusian displayed impressive strength after an aggressive showing on the final climb of the day, followed by his stage-winning attack inside the final two kilometres.

Earlier, four men had formed the day’s escape group: Dario Cataldo (Quick Step), Rafael Valls Ferri (Geox), Amaël Moinard (BMC) and Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana), who at one stage led by nearly six minutes. They were swallowed up after the sixth of the day’s seven categorised climbs, with nearly 30km remaining.

Garmin-Cervélo, who had led the latter stages of the chase, continued to drive an aggressive 50kph pace at the front to keep the bunch together and dissuade any further attacks on the approach to the first-category Azpiroz. The ascent averages 8.5% over its 3.2km length, and with the summit just 3km from the finish it positively encourages attacks from the climbers.

It didn’t take long for the first attack to happen. Fabio Duarte (Geox) shot off the front of the peloton at 5km out and did not elicit an immediate response from anyone. Other riders launched exploratory attacks, but it was Kiryienka who initiated the next serious one. Although he was quickly marked by Fränk Schleck and Chris Horner, his acceleration was enough to expose the sluggishness of Jurgen van den Broeck and 2010 Giro champion Ivan Basso, both of whom will be expected to be among the major players in the mountains later in the season.

Kiryienka claimed his first win in nearly 3 years

The trio were brought back to the lead bunch before the summit, with Movistar well represented at the front but the yellow jersey of Joachim Rodríguez noticeably lacking Katusha teammates to support him. Alexandre Vinokourov eased away from the front of the group on the descent, with Kiryienka and three others forming a final breakaway of five who were able to maintain a four or five second advantage as they sped into Lekunberri.

With 1.6km to go, just as his fellow escapees were busy checking over their shoulders at their pursuers and calculating how to manage the final sprint, Kiryienka jumped off the front with a perfectly timed move which allowed him to speed to the line unchallenged to claim a comfortable win.

Two seconds behind, Andreas Klöden won the sprint for second ahead of Andy Schleck, which promoted him into the race lead over Rodríguez on count-back. Samuel Sánchez is third overall, with last year’s winner Horner just one second back in fourth.

A happy Kiryienka celebrated his first win since taking a stage of the 2008 Giro d’Italia:

This is my first win for a long time, so I’m very happy. I’ve often worked for the rest of the team but it’s nice to win, especially here because I live very close [in Pamplona].

I have to thank my teammates because there were three or four of us at the top of the last climb. We don’t have a big leader because Alejandro [Valverde] is not with us but we’ve got lots of strong riders who can win stages and we’re all feeling pretty good: David López, Beñat Intxausti and Xavier Tondó are all going well. I’m not going badly either.

Stage three from Villatuerta to Zuia-Murgia is the longest of the race at 180km but is relatively flat, featuring just three categorised climbs. There is, however, a testing uncategorised climb just 3km from home which should ensure a lively finish.

Stage 2 result:

1. Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar) 4:06:39

2. Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) + 0:02

3. Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) same time

4. Chris Sørensen (Saxo Bank-SunGard) s/t

5. Chris Horner (RadioShack) s/t

General classification:

1. Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) 8:09:23

2. Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) same time

3. Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) s/t

4. Chris Horner (RadioShack) + 0:01

5. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervélo) + 0:06


Tour of the Basque Country posts

Stage 1: Rodríguez climbs into top spot


About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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