Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 2 of Pais Vasco.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 2 of Pais Vasco. Coming up we have 173.4km of racing between Iruña and Eltziego. In theory it's another day for the sprinters but early doors and we've already seen a two-man break skip clear of the peloton. They hold a slender 20 second lead over the bunch.
Said breakaway bandits are Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Cofidis, Solutions Credits).
Well that escalated quickly. After 10k of racing the break has extended their lead to 4:25.
courtesy of Caja Rural
Yesterday we saw Sunweb and Michael Matthews win their first race together. It was an impressive turn of speed from the Australian who is quickly finding form with his new squad. You can read yesterday's race report, right here.
Igor Anton - who has been MIA for some time now, has jumped clear of the bunch with Yoann Bagot (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) for company. They're trying to catch the two leaders.
Here's how the GC looks coming into the stage:
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 3:45:07
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
Two climbs today and the leaders are on the first ascent after 20km of racing. The gap to the Sunweb peloton is holding at 4'30.
26km remaining from 173km
They crest the top, Anton gobbles up a few more KOM points in that competition and then he and Bagot are caught by the bunch. Mate and Ferrari are still clear.
Ferrari has been with Caja Rural since 2010. The 31-year-old is a solid and dependable domestique with a handful of top ten results in smaller stage races during his career.
A few clouds out but at the moment conditions are near perfect for both the break and the peloton. Mate and Ferrari share turns in the break, while back in the bunch Matthews is surrounded by his Sunweb teammates.
137km remaining from 173km
The race now heads off the descent with two uncategorised climbs. The gap between the bunch and the break is holding at 4'30.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Tue, 4th Apr 2017 12:30:31
We have one Ferrari in the break and another (totally unrelated) in the news. This time it's Dr. Ferrari, who has been handed a suspended sentence handed down for doping a biathlete. You can read the news here.
To make things clearer for the cobbles sections in Paris-Roubaix, organisers have added a new code of difficultly. If you had trouble deciphering the 1-5 star rating, don't worry, as there's now a colour code in place too. You can brush up on your colours, here.
On rider who might not be able to make it to Paris-Roubaix is Sep Vanmarcke. The Belgian crashed heavily in Flanders and injured one of his little fingers. His brother/DS has said it would be a tough call, while the team have said they'll give their one-day leader time to recover. Read up on Vanmarcke, here.
Want to scroll through images and not bother with reading? Then you'll enjoy this huge gallery looking back at the career of Tom Boonen. The Belgian has just two more races left before hanging up his wheels at the end of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. It's been a long and very successful ride.
120km remaining from 173km
Just over 120km to go and the break have 3'50 on the peloton.
While we wait for the race to spring into life, why not have crack at our Tom Boonen quiz? 12 questions, with respectable scores starting at 8. Said Quiz.
@quickstepteam Tue, 4th Apr 2017 12:59:59
110km remaining from 173km
The gap is starting to drop as Sunweb start to move up and organise a chase of sorts. The two-man break have 2'56 on the bunch after 63km of racing.
Sunweb are here with GC aspirations too in the form of Warren Barguil. The Frenchman will go up against Contador and Valverde in the fight for the overall. He finished a creditable 8th in Paris-Nice last month and has the Ardennes coming up in a few weeks - where he'll lead the line with Matthews.
100km remaining from 173km
100km to go and the gap has pushed back out to 3'40 with the bunch easing off just enough to allow the break a little more room. The two leaders continue to share the work in an honest fashion but we're still on course for another bunch gallop.
@TeamSunweb Tue, 4th Apr 2017 13:22:33
@BORAhansgrohe Tue, 4th Apr 2017 13:30:40
Hard to bet against Matthews for the win again today. He was streaks ahead of the rest yesterday, having the power and the timing to see off the remaining sprinters.
At the moment the race is heading through a valley, with a gentle rolling road ahead of the peloton. The gap is at 3'15 with 91km to go. Still Sunweb on the front of the bunch doing all the work.
A gaggle of riders have slipped off the back of the peloton to pick up food and clothing as the bunch ever so slightly line out. Matthews scans back to see a sea Trek riders - including Contador - in his slipstream.
Ferrari and Mate have reached another one of these uncategorised climbs and a few more seconds are chipped off the lead. 3'08 with 89km to go.
Here's our final shout out for our Tour of Flanders race conclusions, featuring Classics legend, Sean Kelly.
The bunch have raised the pace ever so slightly and that's taken another 15 seconds off the break's lead. It's slowly start to come down and sits at 2'45 with 85km to go.
Cummings at the back of the bunch and keeping well out of both trouble and action today. He's been quiet this year in terms of results but there are certainly some stages that suit the British rider later on in this race.
Julian Alaphilippe has been back to the team car, and just sits at the back of the bunch for the moment. The Frenchman was terribly unlucky on stage 1, having a flat while on the attack and going on to lose over two minutes.
No help from the other teams so Sunweb are having to use their full roster on the front of the peloton. Matthews should be fine for the sprint but it could be a tricky one with very few established leadout trains here.
78km remaining from 173km
Up ahead and Ferrari and Mate continue their effort with steady, equal turns on the front. The gap goes up to 3'40 with 78km to go.
Julian Alaphilippe is still towards the back of proceedings but he's in no panic or rush to mov up. The pace has gone out of this one and there's a real lull in the race.
75km remaining from 173km
4'08. That's the biggest gap we've had today.
New has come through that Gilbert will skip Paris-Roubaix. He'll rest and then come back from the Ardennes.
Back here and Mate and Ferrari continue their long slog to the finish. They're climbing with a bit more consistency now as Sunweb react after letting the gap move out to 4'08.
Here's what Gilbert has had to say:
"Paris-Roubaix has a magnetic attraction on me, but I won't be there this year. I need to take a break, recover properly and then begin thinking of the Ardennes, where I'll be part of a very strong team, together with Julian and Dan."
"Besides that, I've only raced Roubaix once, back in 2007, and for a race like that you need experience. Tom needs all the support he can get in his final attempt there, as a strong team is a very important factor in Paris-Roubaix, and I wish him all the best."
The jump in pace from the bunch has shaved 25 seconds off the break's lead.
63km remaining from 173km
The two leaders are now climbing the second ascent of the day. The lead is at 3'45.
@Lotto_Soudal Tue, 4th Apr 2017 14:25:02
And Anton attacks for the last KOM point available. Bagot who leads the competition marks him immediately.
Anton and Bagot are caught by the bunch. 60km to go.
Coming off the climb and Sunweb launch into the chase with far more vigour than we've seen so far today. Instantly they peg the break at 2'37 with 51km to go. It's been a slow burn but the race is finally starting to come alive.
46km remaining from 173km
Contador is on his own at the moment chasing back although we've not seen what the issue was. He's around 30 seconds off the back of the bunch but coming back through the team cars.
He's taking a bit of a draft from the Cofidis car but then comes around the outside when an official pulls alongside. A couple of Trek riders could do with dropping back and helping out their leader as we hit the flat roads towards the finish.
Contador comes back to his team car and takes a bottle before moving through the convoy. The gap between the Spaniard and the bunch is at 12 seconds or so. A teammate is with him too.
For the final 41km of racing Susan Westemeyer will be taking over our live coverage.
Susan here, to sprint to the finish with you. With 38 km to go, our two leaders have only 1:26.
There has been an enormous amount of discussion as to the exact cause of Peter Sagan's crash in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. He is still bruised and battered, but also absolutely determined to be at the Scheldeprijs tomorrow.
Under a minute now, and the teams are getting into formation up front. They are apparently excepting wind, and that means echelons, and that means you want to be up front.
@ehitzulia Tue, 4th Apr 2017 15:01:42
The two leaders are still working well together, but we sincerely doubt they will be able so stay away until the end, which is some 30 km.
Just under 30 km left, and the gap is again down, to 50 seconds.
This is relatively rolling terrain, with a very impressive number of vinyards.
QuickStep and Sunweb at the front of the field. With 24.5km and 1:09, it is probably about time to get serious.
Yesterday we saw a rare all-Australian podium: Matthews, McCarthy and Gerrans. Will there be a repeat today, and if so, would it necessarily be in the same order?
@quickstepteam Tue, 4th Apr 2017 15:27:04
They did indeed finally get serious. 27 seconds and 19 km.
Mate pulls away from Ferrari, in an attempt to stay away. ONly 23 seconds.
Ferrari took the second intermediate sprint ahed of Mate. Mas, who wears the points jersey, jumped from the peloton to take third.
The break is over, with just over 16 km left. Mate has now disappeared into the field.
The pace is very high now, to prevent anyone from getting away.
No one team dominant at the front right now. And we don't actually see Sunweb at all at the moment....
Movistar up front now.
The peloton is spread out totally across the wide road.
Sunweb back up front and sharing the work with Orica.
There was just another intermediate sprint but we have not been told who pointed.
Alaphilippe moves up front but MOvistar is quicly on the spot to make sure he doesn't get away. He had such bad luck yesterday, it seems logical he would try again.
Two km to go!
The tempo drops slightly as they pass under the Flamme rouge.
A Lotto rider jumps but is caught. Matthews now 3d.
A furious if rather confused sprint and the winner is: Michael Albasini of Orica!
Richze seon, De Bie third, and Matthews fourth.
If we had picked an Orica rider to win today, we would most likely not have picked Albasini! But equally surprising is Valverde finishing seventh.
Now to wait and see what the GC looks like....
Apparently Matthews retains the lead, but we don't have official word yet.
Top ten on the stage:
1 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Sco
tt 2 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
3 Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
5 Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
6 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Team UAE Emirates
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
8 Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJ
9 Manuele Mori (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
10 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
Matthews does indeed hold on to the yellow jersey.
General classification after stage 2
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 8:20:29
2 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
3 Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
8 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
10 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
You can read all about how it happened in our race report, with results.
Be sure to join us again tomorrow!
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