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Itzulia Basque Country stage 2 – Live coverage

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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 2 of the Itzulia Basque Country stage race. 

As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, we can see the grey rain clouds that cover the area. We're expecting a wet race but a fast race on the hilly and twisting 154.8km stage.

The stage starts in Zalla to the south-east of Bilbao and then rolls through the lush green hills of the Basque Country covering several different loops before a hillier finale and the finish in Sestao close to the estuary that flow into Bilbao.

As well as rain, it is also cold, with temperatures around 12C. The forecast is for the weather to improve during the stage. 

The riders have signed on and are gathering for the roll out. 

This is the twisting route of stage 2.

Here we go!  

The riders face  a 5.2km neutralised sector. 

Primož Rogliž (Jumbo-Visma) wear's the race leader's yellow jersey after he won the 13.9km individual time trial in Bilbao on Monday.

Asked why he had decided to start so early, the 10th rider off, Roglič cracked a joke by way of response, telling reporters, “the faster you start, the faster you finish.”

Roglič’s excellent start was arguably exactly what the Slovenian needed after his disastrous final stage in Paris-Nice, where his seeming iron grip on the race suddenly disintegrated in a welter of crashes and a dislocated shoulder.

As for the time trial itself, Roglič recognised that it was not the most straightforward of courses. But whereas other rivals like Pogačar later said that they went off too fast, the Slovenian calculated the course to perfection, perhaps recollecting his strategy at a similarly brutally-steep uphill time trial finish in Ezaro in last year’s Vuelta a España.

Race radio has confirmed that all the 165 riders who finished the TT have started today's first road stage.

As soon as the flag dropped, riders attacked. 

A group of 11 got a gap but when they were caught, another six made a move.

The early climb into the hills offers a perfect place to attack. 

With the roads wet, the riders are took it carefully at junctions as they started racing. 

135km to go

Quinten Hermans (Intermarché - Wanty) 

They lead the USA's Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) by 30 seconds. The peloton has eased and is at 1:30.

After a fast 25km, Kevin Vermaerke has made it across to the break, so  Team DSM now have 2 riders in the move.

The Euskadi team are rightly proud to have one of their riders in the break in their home race.

The peloton is 3:30 down on the attack. It will be up to Jumbo-Visma to lead the chase on defence of Roglic's lead. However they know it will be a tough day out. 

Everyone is expected a duel between Roglic and Tadej Pogacar at the Itzulia Basque Country but yesterday Pogacar lost 28 seconds.

After marking the fastest time on the early part of the technical, double-climbing course on La Itzulia’s opening stage, five seconds up on Roglič, he finally finished a mere two seconds adrift of the Slovenian’s winning time in the runner-up spot. McNulty’s near miss in Bilbao could arguably mark a new high point in the WorldTour for the 23-year-old from Arizona.

Click below to ready out story on the talented American.

105km to go

In other news, the big-name transfer market is warming-up with further reports about Peter Sagan's future.  

Click below to read the full story on Sagan and Deceuninck-QuickStep.

95km to go

We are close to the mid-point of the 154km stage but the second half is much hillier, with three categorised climbs.

The break is on the San Cosme climb, a 4km climb at 4%. 

Fortunately the roads are now dry, even if the skies is grey and loaded with rain.

70km to go

There are another 4 climbs in the final 70km, with the last one coming just 14km from the finish.

In the peloton riders are taking off their warm clothing ready for the hilly finale. However there is a risk of more rain very soon. 

Roglic played down his ambitions for today's stage. Indeed Jumbo haver placed just
Christoph Pfingsten on the front to lead the chase.

Behind Christoph Pfingsten are a string of Movistar riders, with Jumbo and Roglic just behind them. 

This was Roglic and Pogacar at the start of the stage. 

Pogacar seemed relaxed despite losing 28 second to his fellow Slovenian in Monday's time trial.  

This is the break of the day. They lead by 2:45 now but they will surely suffer in the hills of the final 60km. 

Our race photographers spotted Tao Geoghegan Hart in the peloton. 

This is the profile of the Bezi climb. It will hurt.

The riders stayed wrapped up due to the rain. 

The Bezi climb is starting to hurt now.

Movistar seem to riding for Valverde, while Trek are protecting Bauke Mollema and Bahrain are riding for local hero Mikel Landa.  

The gap to the break is falling fast and is now. 1:45. 

In other news, Remco Evenepoel has agreed a new- five-year contract with Deceuninck-QuickStep.

50km to go

After the Bezi climb, the riders face a descent to Zalla and the second intermediate sprint.

Other teams are also moving up to the front, including David Gaudu of Groupama.  

The race is back in Zalla, where they started earlier. They face a steep ramp up soon and then a descent to the foot of the final climb, which comes after 133km of racing.    

UAE are also moving up through the middle of the peloton to protect Pogacar.

The break is holding out in Zalla and contesting the sprint. 

Mikel Iturria of Euskaltel won the sprint to take the prime, the points and the three-second time bonus.

Behind, Movistar are still driving the peloton in pursuit. They're really taking on the race today, with all the other teams happy to sit in their wheels and let them do it.

All the capes, leg warmers and warm clothing have been taken off as the Finale of the stage near.

35km to go

After a fast descent, the riders face the La Asturiana climb.  This is the profile, with the graphic on the right showing the rise to the finish in the final kilometre. 

Crash! 

Knox of Deceuninck was also slowed. Bora are chasing to  bring Kelderman back into the peloton before the final cat 2 climb. 

30km to go

Kelderman is chasing with a teammate and some help from his team car. 

Kelderman is diving through the team cars. This is dangerous.

Giovanni Aleotti helped Kelderman back into the peloton. It was a high-speed chase but he is back on. Though Kelderman has cut his finger.  

Astana are on the front of the peloton as the start of the climb nears. 

23km to go

Ineos lead on one side, with Israel on the other side. 

This is Kelderman's bloody finger

Cofidis are also chasing to bring back Martin after a problem.   

Meanwhile the La Asturiana climb has started. The road is very narrow and so will split the peloton.

The climb is 7.4km long, with the steepest sectors early on.

There are two super steep sectors with gradients of 14%.  

Riders are already being distanced as Cabedo of Burgos fights to be the last rider off the front. 

There are some steep hairpins that line-out the peloton. 

Movistar are setting a high pace on the front of  the pack as they sweep up the remains of the break.  

Pogacar is well-placed near the front. 

So is Roglic, in a reduced, 50-rider front group.

Adam Yates is there too. McNulty too.

Gaudu is also dancing on the pedal at the front. 

Cabedo is suffering and only has a 10-second lead.

Gaudu attacks! 

Pogacar is there too as Carapaz crashes on a fast hairpin.

There is still 4km to climb but the race has exploded.  

Movistar are chasing Pogacar and Gaudu, as are Ineos. 

The riders are spread down the road. This is hurting.

Michael Woods surges across to Gaudu and Pogacar. 

The roads is wet and slick. This is the climb, What about the descent? It will be a race of nerves.

The gradient has eased for the final 2km of the climb. There are 25 or so riders in the front group now but the attacks are coming. 

Schachmann attacks!

Roglic is there. McNulty too.  

So is Higuita, creating a 4-rider attack.

Schachmann is driving the attack along. his head bobbing in movement. 

The road is almost flat overt the summit. The chase is on behind.

Fortunately the road are dry. 

The descent starts with a covered cattle grid and rutted concrete roads.

It's like descending on cobbles... 

McNulty and Higuita lead but this is set to comeback together. Watch out for the counter-attacks. 

Alex Aranburu of Astana attacks now and gets a gap.  He wants this on local roads. 

Aranburu can chose his own lines on the fast descent on the series of hairpins.

The roads are wet and dry but he's diving into the hairpins.

Aranburu is careful not to go into a supertuck position that could see him disqualified under the new UCI rules.

Aranburu leads by 25 seconds with 6km to go.

Aranburu was 9th in yesterday's TT and so could also take the race lead if he stays away.

Aranburu leads by 35 seconds, as his teammates try to slow the chase.

Aranburu looks under his shoulder but he is well clear on and the way to the stage victory.

2km to go

Aranburu's biggest problem is the kick-up to the finish. 

Kelderman and Carthy are leading the chase group but Aranburu has gone. 

Last Km! 

Alex Aranburu (Astana) wins the stage!

Here comes the chasers.

Omar Fraille takes second, with Pogacar third.

Fraile punched the air to celebrate Astana's 1-2. 

It will depend on the gaps in the front group. 

Aranburu attacked with 10km to go when the group had chased down Fraile. Astana had clearly planned their attacks today. 

The chasers were only 16 seconds behind Aranburu. He took a 10-second time bonus but that will probably not be enough to gibe him the race lead. 

In provisional results, Roglic keeps the race lead. Aranburu is up to 2nd at 5 seconds, with McNulty third at 6 seconds..

We have the first images of a very happy Alex Aranburu. 

Itzulia

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Itzulia

(Image credit: Getty Images)

These are the provisional results.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 4:03:04
2Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:05
3Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:06
4Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:24
5Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:28
6Maximillian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:31
7Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:32
8Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:34
9Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:40
10Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:42

Aranburu and Fraile celebrated their 1-2 after the finish. 

This is the new top ten on GC:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 4:03:04
2Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:05
3Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:06
4Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:24
5Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:28
6Maximillian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:31
7Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:32
8Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:34
9Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:40
10Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:42

This is how Aranburu attacked, after the chasers had pulled back teammate Fraile.

To see out full photo gallery, full stage report and full results, click below. 

Wednesday's third 167km stage is another day in the Pais Vasco hills.  

Thanks for joining us today. We'll have full live coverage all week from the Basque Country as Roglic, Pogacar and all the other battle it out.