Contador works out cobwebs in opening stage of Pais Vasco
In his first race back since taking a week's rest after the Volta a Catalunya, Alberto Contador says he is feeling good after the opening stage of Vuelta al Pais Vasco on Monday. The Spaniard is eyeing the overall classification, and he is in contention along with the other race favourites to take the leader's jersey on Tuesday's stage 2 that ends with a steep uphill to the line in Garrastatxu.
"I had good sensations today even though the first day is always the most difficult one to get back to race mode, especially when coming from a week of rest after Catalunya. The day started wet but, fortunately, we were lucky and got dry conditions later on,” Contador said in a Tinkoff team press release.
The stage ended with Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) taking the win after a late attack. Contador finished in the bunch. With no time bonus seconds at the finish line, all of the favourites are on par with one another heading into tomorrow's uphill finish.
"At the end of the stage there's no time bonuses at this race so that's not something we have to deal with, so all favourites are still in the same situation ahead of tomorrow, which is another day," said director Sean Yates.
Said to be one of the hardest courses at Pais Vasco in recent history, Contador added that the competition is very strong as well, which will make for a tough week of racing.
“There is no doubt the line-up has a very high level with some very strong riders that came here with the intention to win. We will have to take it a day at a time and see our position. Tomorrow we have the first summit finish but, honestly, I don't know it well. I saw it has a tough profile and I don't know what factors will make the peloton break. Obviously, we will have to be at the front in order not to lose because as we saw in Paris-Nice and Volta Catalunya, every single second is very important."
Dimension Data look forward to tough stages ahead at Pais Vasco
Dimension Data put forth a good effort during the opening stage of Pais Vasco on Monday, attacking near the end of the race and ultimately finishing in the main field. The team has high hopes at the WorldTour race and plan on continuing their aggressive style in the coming stages.
"The guys are healthy and looking strong so we are looking forward to the next stages with much optimism," said director Alex Sans Vega in a team press release.
The opening stage saw Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) take the win ahead of Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) as the duo just held off Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEgde), who won the sprint for third place from a select chase group. It was a challenging day with six climbs and select groups reshuffled over the final ascents of the race. Steve Cummings and Igor Anton made the final selection of roughly 50 riders, giving Dimension Data two options at the finish.
Cummings made a final attack with two kilometres to go to try and bridge across to two leaders but it wasn't enough, and both riders finish with the same time as the main lead group.
Axeon's Geoghegan Hart wins Trofeo Piva
Tao Geoghegan Hart scored his first win of the 2016 season for Axeon Hagens Berman on Sunday at Trofeo Piva, making it two wins in less than a week for the US Continental team during its current swing through Europe.
Geoghegan Hart outkicked Patrick Müller (BMC Development Team) and Marco Tecchio (Unieuro-Willier Trevigiani) to win the 179.8km UCI 1.2 race in Italy. The British rider, who turned 21 on Wednesday, benefitted from Tecchio's early jump.
"It was a bit of a longer sprint, which was good for me," he said. "I was very patient and when I was coming past Müller he realized it was not going to happen."
Geoghegan Hart dedicated his win to team owner Axel Merckx's grandfather, Lucien Acou, who died last month.
"He was a big influence on Eddy and Axel's career,” Geoghegan Hart said. "Like Axel said to us at the training camp at the start of the year, we are all a little bit of 'Baby Merckxs' ourselves, if that is possible."
Geoghegan Hart's result comes after Axeon's Ruben Guerriro won G.P. Palio del Reciotoon on Tuesday, and the team has a string of top 10 finishes to go with the wins.
On March 28, Geoghegan Hart was eighth as BMC's Müller won Giro del Belvedere, then he finished seventh in G.P. Palio del Recioto behind Guerriro’s win. Despite being ill for the final two days, Geoghegan Hart finished sixth overall last month at Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal as Axeon Hagens Berman took the team title.
"In Portugal, we started off in a really rough way," Merckx said. "We had a few crashes and illnesses. But that's when the spirit and mentality of the team came through. The guys rallied around each other and managed to compete well and we got the team title at Alentejo."
Sunday’s win at Trofeo Piva came after Geoghegan Hart made it into the move of the day with teammate Will Barta. Axeon's Logan Owen soon bridged across to make it a trio. When the group started to lose its impetus with two laps of an 18.6km circuit remaining, Geoghegan Hart jumped away on a climb with the two riders that he eventually beat in the finale. Barta finished seventh.
"I felt OK last week, but really I was just following and not feeling myself," Geoghegan Hart said. "But now I am feeling normal again after two weeks of pretty lackluster energy levels."
Australian Continental team Data#3 Cisco Racing Team p/b Scody heading to Europe
Data#3 Cisco Racing Team p/b Scody are set to embark on a two month block of racing in Europe from mid-April to late-May starting with the Profronde Van Noord-Holland. The team will be under stewardship of Dutch sports director Peter Zijerveld for its four one-day races and the 2.2 An Post Ras Tour in Ireland.
Data#3 Cisco Racing Team p/b Scody team has also secured starts at the Arno Wallaard Memorial (23 April), PWZ Zuidenveldtour 30 April) and Ronde Van Overijssel (14 May). The team started its season on home soil with the 1.HC Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and 2.1 Jayco Herald Sun Tour before heading to New Zealand for the 1.2 REV Classic.
A mix of Australian and New Zealand riders make up the squad for the European races with Scott Thomas, Thomas Hubbard, Craig Evers, Saxon Irvine, Ryan Thomas, Dylan Newbery, Alex Grunke and Samuel Volkers representing Data#3 Cisco Racing Team p/b Scody.