Vuelta Pais Vasco – Win for Poels


Wout Poels won the queen stage in Vuelta Pais Vasco whilst Simon Yates went on the offensive as the GC battle heated up

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Vuelta Pais Vasco – Win for Poels (photos OPQS/Tim de Waele)

Another mountainous stage in Vuelta a Pais Vasco sees attacks from Alberto Contador who retains his overall lead while Dutchman Wouter Poels (Omega Pharma Quickstep) took the stage win and Simon Yates got involved in the attacking game, finishing 17th.


It was a tough stage 4 in Vuelta a Pais Vasco, where the riders had to tackle three category 2 climbs and 2 category 1 climbs – the last one peaking just a few kilometers from the finish line.

The stage started with a frantic pace and when the riders arrived at the penultimate climb, the peloton was down to 50 riders. On the last climb, Tinkoff-Saxo naturally sat the tempo further reducing the size of the peloton. Roman Kreuziger moved to the front on the last climb and held the rivals of team leader Alberto Contador in a tight grip making sure that eager attacks were kept to a minimum.

With just a couple of kilometres to go of the final climb, Alberto Contador decided to open the stage himself by deploying a series of accelerations and attacks on the remaining favorites.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), the main rival for Contador, responded quickly and followed every attack from Contador. But it was only in the last few corners of the technical descent down to the finish line that Valverde made his move trying to secure a few seconds on Contador. He succeeded in gaining two seconds due to a small gap in the group of the favorites. But Valverde was unable to catch Omega Pharma – QuickStep’s Wouter Poels who took the win just in front of the Movistar rider.

The stage winner said afterwards, “it was a long, difficult stage,” Poels said. “From kilometre zero until the finish the pace was really fast. But, the team worked really well and they controlled the race. The goal today was to try and move up a bit in the GC and, why not, see if there was a possibility to win the stage.”


“In the final, we were there playing with Kwiatkowski also there. Contador attacked and his efforts were really strong. But at a certain moment ,Contador, Valverde, and a few others started to look at each other. So I tried to take advantage of this situation and I went. I knew the final from last year as I raced here a year ago.”

“I knew it was possible to pass the final climb and go to the finish. So, I went for it. When you have a good condition you are also able to take the right decision in a short time. So, that’s exactly what happened today. I am super happy about it. This is absolutely the most important victory of my career.”

“I am super happy about it because after the big crashes I had at the Tour a few years ago I was able to come back. Now I am here, with this great team, and I won. So, I am over the moon. I’ve had a good feeling since the beginning of the season.”

“I tried to be useful for the team when it’s necessary and when I have a chance like today I try to grab it with both hands. Tomorrow we will see. It’s another difficult stage. We’ll see how we recover from today’s stage. The goal is to try to defend my position and work together with Kwiatkowski, and then we will see. But, it won’t be easy. We’ll do our best.”

Valverde (Movistar): “I might have been a bit more conservative today – that’s because of Saturday’s TT and also tomorrow’s stage, which is gonna be hard,” he explained after the stage. “I was mainly responding to Contador’s attacks on the climb. I could have tried, but I didn’t know how he could react – he’s really strong at the moment. I’m feeling well and I think I can do a good job all the way to Saturday.”

Sami Sanchez (BMC): “The team did a real great job, “We kept a good classification with our GC leaders and the option to win the stage with me. That was a pity that I didn’t, but the real important thing is our team is working at its best. Cadel, Tejay and I are feeling good and tomorrow we can try to look for a stage victory before the final time trial on Saturday.”

Contador said afterwards – “Today was a hard and fast stage here in Vuelta a Pais Vasco. We went 52 km/h in the first hour of the race. Thanks to the team, they did a great job showing impressive strength. Tomorrow there will certainly be more to come”.

Before Saturday’s decisive TT, another hard, 160km stage to Markina-Xemein awaits, with four climbs -Gontzagaigana (Cat-3), Santa Eufemia (Cat-3), Ixua (Cat-1) and San Miguel (Cat-2)- in the finale.

Solo Move by Simon Yates on Pais Vasco Stage Four Final Climb
Last year at this time, Simon Yates was racing in the Tour of Reservoir. In 2014, he’s exciting a lot of people by his climbing ability. The 21-year-old from the North West briefly led the fourth stage of Vuelta al Pais Vasco solo, coming off Pieter Weening’s wheel to lead into the lower slopes of the final climb of Usartza.

“The boys initiated that move,” said Sport Director Neil Stephens. “It was a great effort. Pieter’s main job for the day was to make sure that Simon was well looked after coming into the town of Eibar. When the race hits that point, it’s always difficult with narrow roads, round-abouts, and lots of pushing and shoving.

“When they came into Eibar, Pete said: ‘Look, if we’re near the front, we might as well go off the front’ – and that’s what they did,” Stephens continued. “Pete told Simon to ride within himself and wait for the group to come back to him. That way if there was an attack off front after he was caught, he still had some energy left to try to go for it.”

“It always takes more effort to stay away than to stay in the bunch,” Stephens added. “But Simon didn’t give it everything to hold off the group. He saved something to follow once he was caught.”

Although Yates wasn’t able to respond to the race winning move made by Wout Poels on the upper slopes of the final climb, he finished a respectable 17th place on the stage, 45” behind the Omega Pharma Quick-Step rider who soloed to victory in Arrate. Yates’ efforts afforded him a jump up the overall classification from 21st place to 17th overall, 58” behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and a firm grasp on the lead in the best young rider competition.

“I suspect in a year or two, Simon will be fighting for the win on a stage like today,” said Stephens. “He was really eager to ride hard for the stage rather than conserve a little and protect his place on the general classification. He’s not used to riding for the overall.”

“Simon came here as part of his preparation for the Ardennes,” said Stephens. “He contributed in a fantastic way to the team’s victory yesterday and sharpened up the race legs with four days of racing in Basque Country. It was a planned withdrawal today, and we wish him all the best for the Ardennes.”

1 POELS Wout Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 03:39:29
2 VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team 00:01
3 SáNCHEZ Samuel BMC Racing Team
4 SLAGTER Tom-Jelte Garmin Sharp 00:03
5 MOLLEMA Bauke Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
6 TROFIMOV Yuri Team Katusha
7 EVANS Cadel BMC Racing Team
8 LANDA Mikel Astana Pro Team
9 CUNEGO Damiano Lampre-Merida
10 CONTADOR Alberto Tinkoff-Saxo

12 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC Racing Team
15 KWIATKOWSKI Michal Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 00:10
17 YATES Simon Orica GreenEDGE 00:42
19 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen Lotto Belisol
20 ROLLAND Pierre Team Europcar
23 GESINK Robert Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
29 KREUZIGER Roman Tinkoff-Saxo 01:43
30 HESJEDAL Ryder Garmin Sharp 01:57
33 SCHLECK Fränk Trek Factory Racing 02:14
43 SANCHEZ Luis Leon Caja Rural – Seguros RGA
44 MARTIN Tony Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 05:44
51 GILBERT Philippe BMC Racing Team
52 VELITS Peter BMC Racing Team
53 DUMOULIN Tom Team Giant-Shimano
70 SCHLECK Andy Trek Factory Racing 10:04
71 YATES Adam Orica GreenEDGE 12:17
84 COSTA Rui Lampre-Merida 18:01
91 SWIFT Ben Team Sky
123 VOIGT Jens Trek Factory Racing 22.18
134 EDMONDSON Joshua Team Sky

1 Alberto Contador Tinkoff-Saxo 16:33:35
2 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team 0:00:12
3 Damiano Cunego Lampre-Merida 0:00:36
4 Cadel Evans BMC Racing Team
5 Jean-Christophe Peraud AG2R La Mondiale
6 Iurii Trofimov Team Katusha
7 Michal Kwiatkowski Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:41
8 Mikel Landa Meana Astana Pro Team 0:00:54
9 Wout Poels Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:55
10 Samuel Sanchez BMC Racing Team 0:00:56

11 Tom Jelte Slagter Garmin Sharp
13 Tejay van Garderen BMC Racing Team 0:00:58
16 Jurgen Van Den Broeck Lotto Belisol 0:01:37
17 Simon Yates Orica GreenEdge


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