Defending Tour of Basque Country champion Andreas Klöden must bury his hopes of winning again this year. The RadioShack-Nissan rider lost over five minutes on the first stage not being at the top of his form following illnesses that prevented him from racing. The good news for the team however was Oliver Zaugg's escape attempt near the end of the race, and veteran Jens Voigt said he was pleased with the work he did on his suntan during the stage.
“I am suffering, but this is logical,” Klöden said on the team's website. “I was sick after Paris-Nice. I had a fever and then later stomach problems. I had to miss Criterium International because of that. So I miss racing in my legs. Pais Vasco will be hard for me but very useful, too.”
Zaugg, who won the Tour of Lombardy last fall, took off in the finale with Saxo Bank's Daniele Navarro. They were unsuccessful and a mass sprint followed, but the Swiss rider was nevertheless satisfied.
“I figured it was a good moment to try something,” he said. “One of my goals this season is the Giro d’Italia, so step by step I think I am getting there. After Catalunya I worked really hard. Now I am in better shape. I can see that. But my role here is to be a helper and I’ll only try things like today when it is a good moment to go.”
Jens Voigt, 40, had his usual good time despite punctures, crashes and getting dropped. As he so colourfully tweeted, “Urrgh- what a first day!! Started awesome with beautiful sunny weather. I covered the first attacks- all good. But then it started... Franky Schleck punctured and I changed wheel with him, then waited for car, chased back on, delivered some water bottles...and then I crashed. Nothing bad happened in that crash but needed to change front wheel and back into chasing the bunch.
“Finally got back on bottom of last climb. Right in time to get dropped like a useless s**tkicker, and then just finished in a little group. Used all energy for the whole race today!!
“But hey- on the positive side I have to say I did work on my suntan a lot today!!! Hahaha Can only go uphill from now on!!! :-))”