47th Vuelta al País Vasco - PT
Spain, April 9-14, 2007
Veteran Beltran triumphs
Spain's experienced pro Manuel Beltran (Liquigas) added another win to his long career today by crossing the finish line in first place at the end of stage 2 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in Karrantza. "Triki" raced the very mountainous parcours in four hours, 51 minutes, and 55 seconds. Jose Antonio Redondo (Astana) was the runner-up 15 seconds behind while defending champion Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir) took third 19 seconds behind Beltran.
This is the first victory of the 35-year-old cyclist from Jaen in Italy's Liquigas. Meanwhile, Juan Jose Cobo (Saunier Duval-Prodir) retained the jersey leader with a general classification time of 8:35:26. Gomez Marchante is now second six seconds back while today's winner is third with the same time.
How it unfolded
At Urretxu, 181 riders signed in for today's stage. The riders faced eight mountains on the longest stage of the tour that extended for 191.5 kilometres. Early in the day, Australia's Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux) abandoned the race at 30km.
The big action began at 56km when eight riders dared to attack: David Lopez (Caisse D'Epargne), Jose Antonio Redondo (Astana), Manuel Beltran (Liquigas), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sebastien Jolly (Francaise des Jeux), and Anthony Charteau (Credit Agricole). This proved to be the right breakaway of the day. They worked together and were able to make a gap as they were racing through many climbs: Alto de Bikotz Gaiñe (category 2), Alto de Garate (category 3) and Alto de San Cosme (category 3). The eight leaders were doing well maintaining their four minute and 32 second gap at kilometer 121.
At the first intermediate sprint in Zalla (km 130 61.5 km to go), Charteau, Barredo, and Astarloza got the bonus points. At Alto de la Escrita (km 157.5 34 km to go), the breakaway resisted, but there were two more climbs left. At Alto de Ubal (category 1 km 174 17.5 to the end), the eight cyclists kept the good tempo even though the peloton was coming closer. At that point, three riders got rid of the others. Beltran, Redondo, and Astarloza found the right moment to take over the race leadership.
The last mountain was Alto de Cuevas de Pozalagual (category 2), and the front part of the peloton pushed much to swallow the breakaway. The advantage of the leaders was one minute and 15 seconds. With just 3.5km to go, Jose Antonio Redondo left his partners behind and broke away solo.
The chasers and the leader got together in the final kilometres. Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval-Prodir) came from the front of the group and chased Redondo while Beltran sat on Redondo's wheel. "Triki" finished off the stage strong by passing the Astana rider and winning. Beltran finished ahead of Redondo and Gomez Marchante.