Tour of Basque Country Queen Stage

Valverde wins Queen stage in Tour of Basque Country – five riders on the same time prior to Time Trial

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Tour of Basque Country Queen Stage

The queen stage of the six-day race was short at 140 kilometers but packed with hefty climbs, and the fireworks erupted on the final of six ascents. Despite a few searing attacks by Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) and fierce accelerations by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), a group of seven were together in the final two kilometers as the gradient eased.

Contador, who seems to be riding under a black cloud in the Basque Country Tour suffering bad luck was the sole victim hindered by Sanchez’s tumble with around 500 meters to go. Valverde won the stage, outsprinting four riders.

The top five riders hold the same time in the overall classification, setting up tomorrow’s TT stage as an ultimate showdown in ‘the race of truth’. The final time trial, a lengthy 27 kilometers, will decide it all.
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Alejandro Valverde: “We set Rubén at the front to pull hard and pick the pace up heading into the climb; Yates jumped at the first slope and, when I saw him, I quickly tried to counter his move and make the GC contenders suffer. I attacked and attacked, the other struggled, but I also suffered and it was difficult to create a gap.

At the final stretch of the ‘new’ climb I decided to just set a steady pace, without any attacks, to catch Woods and Meintjes. That way, I could contest the sprint, where I knew I’d be the fastest. I knew the finish perfectly – one who doesn’t do might have his doubts about how to tackle that final turn, on full steam or braking a bit before going for the final straight. I knew I had to go full gas, that’s why I took the lead with 300m to go and never let anyone go ahead. I was second through the last turn when I won in the Vuelta a España, and was lucky to just pip Purito over the very finish line. That’s why I kept clear in mind I had to go through first.

“I’m really happy about this victory. It makes me feel already satisfied about what I’ve achieved in this race. We’ll surely chase the overall win at the TT tomorrow, we’ve got no pressure on our shoulders and a GC victory would be a huge plus for my palmarès, I can’t deny I want to take it as I haven’t got an Itzulia – but I’ll feel happy all the same if I don’t win. I’ve claimed eight victories so far this year, two GCs, lots of second and third places – everything that happens now will not change my happiness. We also know that some good specialists are behind us, really close, and it will be tough to conserve the jersey. Alberto was strong today, despite his crashes on Thursday, and Ion is a splendid time trialist, and only lost 15” today.

“The key on tomorrow’s TT route will be both the ascent and the flat after the Elgeta descent. You’ve got to climb fast and profit from that long downhill to recover because, even though there are some generous stretches into the flatter part to just throw your bike and not pedal, you’ll also need some power on your legs to cope with some difficult sections. I know it well, I actually went on a recce of it last Friday, and today’s finale went through some of its roads. I’m confident I can do well.”

Alberto Contador: “I felt well, much better than expected because this morning I was quite sore,” explained Alberto. “I’m happy. I was always able to be in the front, and in the end, controlling all the movements. Maybe I’ve been more conservative than other times because of yesterday’s crash, but I am satisfied to be in the group of those who played the stage.”

Contador brushed off the incident, as he has done all week, focusing instead on how well his legs responded after his hard crash yesterday: “Samuel had a very bad crash right in front of me,” said Alberto. “Fortunately, I was able to dodge it, but that made me lose some meters and lose three seconds with the others. At the end, these are just race circumstances; the important thing is that the body has responded well and now we must think about the time trial. The race is still wide open because people behind can recover time too. The time trial is very long, and the differences can be very big.

“Last year was a very hard TT with a hard climb that was very good for me. This year the climb is more bearable, and the rest of the road goes down. Riders of more power will fare better than I do, but in the end, the key is to give the maximum and go to the finish.

1. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar Team50503:26:32
2. Romain BardetAG2R La Mondiale2030,,
3. Rigoberto Uran Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team818,,
4. Michael Woods Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team 13,,
5. Louis Meintjes UAE Team Emirates 10,,
6. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo 70:03
7. Ion Izagirre Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 40:15
8. Sergio Henao Team Sky
9. Simon Yates ORICA-Scott
10. David de la Cruz Quick-Step Floors @ 22

1. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
2. Rigoberto Uran Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
3. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale
4. Louis Meintjes UAE Team Emirates
5. Michael Woods Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
6. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo 0:03
7. Ion Izagirre Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 0:15
8. Sergio Henao Team Sky
9. David de la Cruz, Quick-Step Floors 0:19
10. Patrick Konrad, Bora – Hansgrohe 0:22

26. Simon Yates ORICA-Scott 1:45



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