Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 2 of the Iztulia Basque Country.
Hello to our latest live race updates. As the Cn blimp takes flight and we join the action, the peloton has covered the early kilometres of the 149.5km second stage from Zumarraga to Gorraiz.
Today's stage is quite short but includes six sectors of dirt roads ti spice up the racing.
119km remaining from 149km
After 30km of racing, the early break of the day leads by 2:40.
In there are Atapuma. Bernard, Bravo and Amezqueta.
These were the leader jerseys at the start, with Max Schachmann in the leader's yellow jersey after winning the hilly opening TT.
Milan-San Remo winner Julian Alaphilippe is in the green jersey.
With the sun out in the Basque Country, the racing stated from the gun, with even Rohan Dennis going on the attack.
The early climbs have tested the riders but they are focused on the six dirt road sectors that come in the second half of the race. Three are packed together.
Darwin Atapuma (Cofidis), Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) and Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi) attacked after 12km and quickly opened a gap.
Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural) tried to join them but is stuck between the trio and the peloton.
107km remaining from 149km
He finally closed the gap on the six-kliometre long Lizarrusti climb after a fast 40km of racing.
The peloton is 2:50 back.
After the Lizarrusti climb, the road dips and rolls all the way to the finish.
This is the break of the day.
The riders face a total of 4800m of dirt roads, with the key sector coming with 50km to go. They are mixed in with some short steep climbs and so could be important in the fight for overall victory.
Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) was the first over the 6km Lizarrusti climb.
94km remaining from 149km
The fast descent off the Lizarrusti has helped the peloton pull back the break, the gap is down to 2:35.
95km remaining from 149km
The break is on a exposed valley road, making it easier for the peloton to chase them down.
Bora-Hansgrohe are leading the chase in defence of Schachmann's yellow jersey.
To read our full stage report on how the German won the hilly and technical 11km time trial, click here.
80km remaining from 149km
The organisers have announced that the first dirt road sector has been cancelled but the others will begin with 50km to go.
This is the location and distance of the five sectors.
-49 | Olaz | 700m | **
-42 | Azpa | 1.8km | ****
-40 | Ustarroz | 400m | *
-22 | Olaz | 800m | **
-16 | Egüés | 900m | **
75km remaining from 149km
The four riders in the break are working smoothly but their lead is down to 2:25.
Cesare Benedetto is leading the chase for Bora-Hansgrohe.
71km remaining from 149km
Team Sky are also gathering near the front as the kilometres tick down to the dirt road sectors.
In Spain they call them 'Caminos de Grava', in the Basque Country, something far more difficult to pronounce.
Today they come to the east of Pamplona on a twisting hilly route.
66km remaining from 149km
Race leader Schachmann is surprisingly at the back, with his team car.
64km remaining from 149km
The riders are close to Pamplona now. The Basque city is, of course, birthplace and home to Spain's five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain.
62km remaining from 149km
The roads are wet as the lead of the break falls more and more.
It is now 1:40.
Some how the race is sent down a narrow road with parked cars on one side.
The road safety could be a lot better.
The first dirt road will come with 50km to go.
Called Olatz-Xalduko, it is some 700m long.
Position in the peloton will be vital, so we can expect a fight for the front of the peloton.
54km remaining from 149km
The break leaves the main roads of Pamplona and hits the country lanes.
After the wet roads, it is now dry.
52km remaining from 149km
The road twists through a village and the peloton is on the breakaway.
Astana is leading the dance now.
Astana has a strong team here in the Basque Country and several riders could win the stage and even the GC.
Behind Astana the peloton is splitting.
50km remaining from 149km
The peloton turns right and hit the dirt!
Schachmann has made it back up and is near the front.
Everyone makes it through the dirt section but the peloton is lined out.
The next, 1800m sector comes in eight kilometres but after the 1km Muro de Badostain 7% climb.
The peloton has split into two due to a central grass section on a main road.
Luckily for some, they come back together at a left turn.
47km remaining from 149km
But a sharp left turns slows some of the riders. The race is on.
Now Movistar has taken over on the front. Pamplona is their home town and will be expected to fight for victory today.
This is a screen grab of the first dirt section. It's just like the Strade Bianche race.
45km remaining from 149km
The riders hit a concrete country road now and head into the hills.
They're on the 7.5% Zaldua Bordazar climb. This will hurt.
44km remaining from 149km
Riders are bring spat out the back, with the GC contenders up front.
Kwiatkowski is there for Sky.
43km remaining from 149km
They hit the 1800m dirt road sector now.
Astana is lining it out on a fast section of dirt road.
The road now kicks up and Astana are going for it, trying to crack some of their rivals.
42km remaining from 149km
After 300m of concrete road, they're back on the dirt.
Whoever is dropped here will really struggle to get back on.
Astana have five riders on the front.
Alaphilippe is there with two teammates. Thomas is there too, with Kwiato.
There are 30 or so riders in the front group.
There are now 18km before the next dirt sector.
Other riders are trying to get back on but need to make a huge effort.
Dani Martinez of EF is there, with several teammates, Adam Yates too.
37km remaining from 149km
Schachmann is there too and kicks ahead to win an intermediate sprint.
35km remaining from 149km
The front group, now up to 50 or so riders, leads the chasers by 25 seconds.
The rest of the peloton is spread down the road.
Movistar take over at the front, with a train of five riders protecting Mikel Landa.
30km remaining from 149km
Alaphilippe stops for a bike change, after what seems a flat.
Two Deceuninck teammates are helping him get back on the front group.
27km remaining from 149km
After spring rain, the sun is now out for the finale.
The chasers are on and trying to move up as Astana set a fast pace.
It's almost time for the next dirt road.
Astana has lined the riders out and are fighting for the intermediate sprint.
There are 3, 2 and 1 seconds up to grab at each sprint, hence the fight to the line.
Dylan Tuens of Bahrain took a tumble on a corner and is chasing to get back on.
23km remaining from 149km
The riders turn left onto the next dirt road sector.
Team Sky take control.
It is 800m long and is followed by the Muro Zaldua climb, 300m at 11%
Diego Rosa has lined out the peloton for Team Sky.
21km remaining from 149km
There are 60 or so riders in the front group as they pass near the finish area and the kick-up to the line.
They face an extra 50 metres or so next here in 20km or so.
Another narrow, country climb kicks up as the riders face the Camino de Hormigon for a second time.
The final dirt sector is coming up.
Castroviejo keeps the peloton lined out.
18km remaining from 149km
They hit the dirt for the last time!
The speed is super high now.
16km remaining from 149km
The dirt ends but the narrow country roads begin in the village of Ibiriku.
Adam Yates is at the back with several teammates.
Did he suffer a puncture?
15km remaining from 149km
He did, taking a teammates bike.
14km remaining from 149km
Nobody up front is going to wait for Yates. The race is on 100%.
Yates and his teammates are 45 second behind.
Yates has three teammates to lead the chase but the speed is so high up front that the front group is splitting.
10km remaining from 149km
Groupama is helping the chase after also being caught behind.
8km remaining from 149km
A Yates is 50 seconds back as the leaders catch their breath on a fast descent.
Now its about positioning for the kick-up to the finish line.
It seems a perfect finish for Alaphilippe. but watch for Kwaitkowski of Sky and Dan Martin.
6km remaining from 149km
Astana is still in charge, powering along at 60km/h.
5km remaining from 149km
There are 40 or so riders left up front.
Yates will lose at least a minute here. That's a big blow for his overall chances.
3km remaining from 149km
The final 600m kicks up at 8%. Position will be decisive.
Schachmann is there with several Bora teammates.
2km remaining from 149km
De Marchi attacks for CCC! But he soon swept up.
1km remaining from 149km
Alaphilippe is on Kwaito's wheel.
0km remaining from 149km
Castroviejo leads to the foot of the climb.
Schachmann goes for it.
But Lambrecht is faster!
Here comes Alaphilippe.
He passes the Belgian and wins the stage!
The Frenchman produced a perfect finish, timing his sprint just right.
Here comes Yates. He lost 1:10.
Alaphilippe goes to find Schachmann to talk and apologise about a possible contact in the sprint.
Ptrovisional results show Alaphilippe beat Lambrecht, with Kwiatkowski third and Omar Fraile of Astana fourth.
Alaphilippe was timed at one second ahead of everyone else.
It was Decuninck's 21st win of 2019. And Alaphilippe's 26th career win.
Alaphilippe stomped on the pedals as the road kicked-up. He cut under Lambrecht as he faded and danced his way to the line, with time to celebrate with his arms open.
This is the top ten for the stage:
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 02:29:37
2 Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:01
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 00:00:01
4 Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:01
5 Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 00:00:01
6 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:01
7 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:01
8 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:01
9 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:01
10 Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:00:01
Alaphilippe took a short break after winning Milan-San Remo and revealed to Equipe that he'd been hit by a stomach virus but he looked as strong as ever.
He won his first race of 2019 at the Vuelta a San Juan in late January and like his team, he is on a roll.
Alaphilippe picked up a 10-second time bonus for victory and so this is the new GC after stage 2.
Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 03:36:44
Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:00:05
Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 00:00:10
Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First 00:00:18
Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:23
Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:23
Enric Mas (Spa) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:00:28
Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:36
Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:39
Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:41
Alaphilippe was, shall we say, super happy, to win yet again.
"After a small break after Milan-San Remo, I came here with big motivation. I didn't know how my condition would be but yesterday I did a good time trial. Today was a good stage for me and my team did a great job and I could finish in a nice way. It's a pretty nice day," he explained in his excellent English.
"It was really fast all day. It was a short stage but really nervous in the final with a lot of technical parts and gravel. So there was a nerves in the peloton.
"The final, with a climb like this, was perfect for me I knew that Michel Kwiatkowski was strong, so I followed him.
"I'm really happy to take another win."
Here's the first image of Alaphilippe winning stage 2 of the Iztulia Basque Country race.
This shot better shows how Alaphilippe distanced is rivals in the final kick to the line.
To read our full stage report, see our photo gallery of the action and check the full results, click here.
Thanks to taking some time bonuses during the stage, Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) kept the race leader's yellow jersey.
Thanks for joining us for the racing on the Basque dirt roads and steep climbs.
On Wednesday we'll have live coverage of stage 3 and full live coverage from Scheldeprijs in Belgium as the days count down to Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.
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