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Euskaltel comfortable at home

Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) did a great race and secured the mountains classification

Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) did a great race and secured the mountains classification (Image credit: Cyclinginside.com)

Egoi Martínez of Euskaltel-Euskadi went into the break of the day in the first stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco, together with Iban Mayoz (Karpin Galicia), thinking that "they would let us go ahead a little further." But the lead never went past four minutes and on the hilly day it proved not enough to stay away for the duo. In the beginning of the stage, the two were accompanied by Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis), but the first time up the Deskarga, the Frenchman could not follow the Spaniards.

Martínez was happy, stating that "thanks to the escape, the team was very present in the stage. We showed the competitiveness of our formation and that is very important at a home race, with all our fans 'in the gutter.'" Martínez received the leader's jersey in the mountains classification and that was very important to him, too. He described that in the break "Mayoz and I worked well together, but it was impossible to get a bigger margin on the big group." The most important for him now is "to recuperate and go ahead as we intended."

Martínez' team-mate, Igor Antón, was equally happy. "It was a special day after what happened this week. There was doubt until the last minute. The first day was very important for me. I am happy on how the stage went." Antón found himself in the lead group at the end "felt good all day." He was happy to be able to follow the big guns. "When Contador attacked I didn't move, but when Cunego and Evans accelerated, I went behind their wheels and made it up the Deskarga very well."

It's not all healed yet for the Basque rider. "In the beginning of the stage my tendon was bothering me a bit, but later I did not have any trouble with it." As for the next stages, Antón hoped to recover well for stage 2. In the end "the truth is that I will have to take it day by day..."

Mikel Astarloza was equally satisfied with how stage 1 went. "It was the first day in the race, it was a difficult stage and I managed to come in with the first group. The truth is that I was feeling fine for the most part of the day, but I suffered a lot in the finale, due to the rain and cold. On the last time up the Deskarga I was pulling. The rhythm was good for me, but I was frozen." In fact, Astarloza thought that "I think for some riders the cold was a more decisive factor than the actual route."

Astarloza also had thoughts on the competition. "Contador has demonstrated that he is very strong, but we only lost eight seconds and there is still a long ways to go in this tour. His attack was no surprise, we know he is in form and is the man to watch. We have to be consistent and stay on the front. Any stage can produce a surprise. On paper, nothing significant should happen to the general classification in the day to Erandio, but the Vuelta al País Vasco is a very nervous race and one has to be very attentive."