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Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2017: Stage 1


The Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco opens today, with 153.3 kilometers and three ranked climbs – but we still expect to see a sprint finish.

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Pais Vasco race history

Pais Vasco race preview

Welcome to our live coverage of the 2017 Pais Vasco! Things will start off in a few minutes. The start is in Pamplona, famous for the running of the bulls every July and as the setting for Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”.

The peloton has just set out on the neutralized portion of the start.

The race website tells us: “First stage of this edition will start at the capital city of Navarre, Pamplona. With few difficulties, riders will have to climb 2nd category Erro twice and 3rd category climb Mezkiriz will follow after on. Considering they will still have 60 kms to finish, winner could be decided among fastest riders of the bunch. Last 3 kms in Eguesibar are very flat, only point to pay attention to is a 90 degrees bend when 300 metres left”

 The race has literally just started and already we have our first abandon: Sam Bennett of Bora Hansgrohe.

Team #BAHRAINMERIDA at signature check @ehitzulia

What can we expect from this race? Our Dane Cash has explained all in this Cyclingnews race preview.


And right away we have a break group! Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) and Igor Anton (Dimension Data) took off at km 5 and by km 7.5 already have a gap of 3:15.

Let’s take a look at last year’s top ten, which contains some familiar and impressive names:

1 Alberto Contador

2 Sergio Henao

3 Nairo Quintana

4 Thibaut Pinot

5 Joaquim Rodriguez

6 Samuel Sanchez

7 Rui Costa

8 Simon Spilak

9 Lawson Craddock

10 Wilco Kelderman

Of these, Contador, Henao, Sanchez, Spilak and Craddock are all there again.

138km remaining from 153km

After 15 km, the gap has grown to 4:08.


They are going up the first climb, which is the first of two times up the cat.2 Erro.


130km remaining from 153km

The ascent is bringing the gap down. It is now 3:31


But with only 1 km left to the top of the climb, the gap is back to 4:10.


Bagot claims the first mountain points, crossing the top ahead of Anton and  the Caja Rural rider, who they now tell us is Lluis Mas, and not Aranburu.


124km remaining from 153km

The gap is really bouncing around here, and is now at 3:40.


There are certainly a lot of top names at this race: Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), for example.

#itzulia a trio went up the roads & had 3'40". They´re now in the descent after the first climb. #BORAhansgrohe is in the peloton.

@BORAhansgrohe Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 12:38:40

Lotto Soudal is going for both stage wins and GC here, with a strong squad.

If Alberto Contador takes the overall title here this year, it would be for a record-breaking fifth time. However he is being cautious about making any predictions.


They have covered 40.6 km in the first hour of the race.


Team Sky is headed up by none other that Milan-San Remo winner Michal Kwiatkowski, with Paris-Nice winner Sergio Henao as back-up.

The gap is now holding steady at around three minutes.


BMC’s Samuel Sanchez is having a tough early season, but hopes to do well here. He won the GC here back in 2012.

98km remaining from 153km

After 55 km, the gap has dropped to 2:56. The second climb of the cat. 2 Erro comes in some 17 km.


Of course you watched the Tour of Flanders yesterday. Read about our 8 conclusions from the race, including comments from Sean Kelly.


At km 68.7, with the feed zone rapidly approaching, the gap has dropped to 2:35, with Sunweb leading the peloton.


Bora-Hansgrohe has said that Bennett suffers from bronchitis and therefore abandoned the race.


Mas has dropped back as Bagot and Anton climb up the Erro again. With 76.7 km to go, the gap is at 2:35.


Bagot jumps to take the mountain points, and keeps on going solo.


But Anton soon joins him on the descent.


And Mas comes back as well.


Sunweb still pulling the peloton along.


Bagot has won both the first two mountain rankings and so will presumably win the KOM jersey this evening.


Sunwebe ding a team time trial at the head of the field. 68km and 2:42.


The third and final climb, the cat. 3 Mezkiriz, is coming up momentarily.


The break trio has now started up the day's last climb.


Anton claimed the top points at the Mezkiriz, ahead of Bagot and Mas.


Sunweb is riding for top sprinter Michael "Bling" Matthews.


⛰Mezkiritz gaina, km. 90,68, 1. @IgorAntonH pasa da lehenengo postuan. 62 kms to finish line after this last climb / 62 kms a meta

Bagot will indeed get the KOM jersey for today. The trio has passed through the day's first intermediate sprint and Mas has finally had his chance, taking it ahead of Bagot and Anton.


From here it is all downhill to a rolling section to a flat run-in to the finish line. 49.7 km and 1:55


#itzulia 56km to go & the chase is beginning to heat up with the peloton bringing the breakaway's advantage to within 2 minutes.

@BMCProTeam Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 14:12:56

There are two more intermediate sprints to come, at km 121 and km 137.


44km remaining from 153km

 The gap to the leaders is holding at 1'54 with 44km to go. Anton has been off the radar for some time but he's in the break today.

Back in the bunch and Contador and Valverde are just tapping out a steady pace and keeping safe within the heart of the peloton. The same can be said of Simon Yates, who is another contender for the GC. 


A couple of Sunweb riders have just taken a comfort break but Matthews' team are still on the front and leading the chase. The gap comes down to 1;23 with 43km to go.


Talansky, manages to remain on his bike but it could have been so much worse as he rides into a ditch. It's all smiles as the American hops over the barrier and gets moving again. 

Catch up on our Tour of Flanders coverage and this huge gallery of images from the race.


Astana, Katusha, Dimension Data and a number of other teams have also moved up to the front of the bunch. 


Astana, Katusha, Dimension Data and a number of other teams have also moved up to the front of the bunch. 


'You shouldn’t be racing on the side like Sagan did,' says Greg Van Avermaet |

@Cyclingnewsfeed Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 14:35:10

To be frank the bunch aren't riding at full gas but the three leaders are continuing to lose time. The gap is at 55 seconds with 37km to go.


The break are given more room after a number of riders in the bunch take a comfort break. The gap moves out to 1'11 with 31km to go.


#itzulia Last 30 km and a 1'24 advantage for the breakers. The bunch controls the gap.

@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 14:47:56

Trek Segafredo are sitting behind Sunweb, who continue to lead the peloton with 27km to go. The sprinters are preparing for the stage finale. Swift and Richeze are also here and should be in contention. Swift, of course, won a stage here in 2014. 


Anton has sat up, with the rest of the break still at 1'00. 25km to go. 


21km remaining from 153km

21.5km to go and the bunch are caught the break. They spread out over the road as the pace eases once more. 


No team want to take this up too early and given the lack of pure sprinters it's no wonder the pace has dropped. 

It's too slow for Sunweb though and they blink first, moving to the front and leading Matthews with them.


Breakaway caught inside the last 20 kilometers. All our guys are safely tucked in the peloton. #itzulia

@quickstepteam Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 15:06:59

LottoNL and Orica have moved up on the left with Sunweb still hogging the right. The road is about to narrow dramatically, hence the increase in pace as the GC riders look to position themselves near the front and remain out of trouble.


14km remaining from 153km

We do have one more little rise in the road but this should finish in a pure bunch sprint. We're rapidly running through the final kilometres - 14 to go!


Movistarr have moved to the fore just as the road narrows and look to keep Valverde safe. Bora are also there, along with UAE. One team are unable to take control. 


7km remaining from 153km

7km to go and Bora are leading out. They've lost Bennett this morning but they still have a sprinter in their ranks in Buchmann. 


Sunweb are caught off guard and Valverde is there, near the front. It's a technical section at the moment as they run through corners. Valverde is second wheel. 


There's an attack from Lotto Soudal and it's being chased down by the main field. 


It looks like Wellens is the one who has attacked. He has a gap but it's less than 25m. Sunweb are chasing. 


Wellens is caught and Alaphilippe has attacked and gone clear  on that final little climb. 


The Frenchman goes over the top with 30m on the bunch as Barguil leads the chase. The gap is getting bigger - 4.1km to go.


4km remaining from 153km

4m to go and Alaphilippe is clear of the bunch by 4 seconds.


He has a puncture. What awful luck because he had a really good gap on the field. He bangs his bars in frustration and who can blame him.


2.6km and Bora lead with Valverde right in the thick of things.


And Roche attacks, with Valerde marking him. And now Valverde counters with Roche following.


1km remaining from 153km

1km to go and it's all back together.


Orica lead out. 


Around the final tight corner and Matthews is well positioned. 


It looks like Buchmann leads out with Matthews on his wheel. 


The Australian comes around the outside and opens his sprint. 


And he wins. Michael Matthews has time to celebrate and take his first win in Sunweb colours. 


Gerrans was up there, Swift too but Matthews even has time to look around at Gerrans to give him a smile. 


Contador comes over the line and a few seconds down. Not sure what happened to the Spaniard. It doesn't look like he fell, maybe it was mechanical. 


It was Jay McCarthy who was second for Bora with Gerrans in third. Uran made the top ten.


Oh Contador at 1,07 from Matthews. Que pasa? #itzulia

@TourDeJose Mon, 3rd Apr 2017 15:29:29

1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
2 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-Scott
4 Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha-Alpecin
5 Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
8 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
9 Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates
10 Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe


Reports are that Contador fell inside the final 1km. He was back on his bike and should not lose any time. 


No time bonuses so the result holds for the GC too:


1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
2 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-Scott
4 Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha-Alpecin
5 Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
8 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
9 Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates
10 Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe


You can find our report, images and results, right here. We'll be back tomorrow with more live coverage from Pais Vasco.


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