Basque Country: Stage 5

Mikkel Honoré and Josef Cerny made it an unforgettable 1-2 for Deceuninck – Quick-Step on stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, McNulty continues to lead overall

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Basque Country: Stage 5

Team Press Release
There aren’t many things better in cycling than two teammates finishing first and second in a race, as it just says something about that squad, its strength and the pervasive team spirit that fuels the riders before each race. On Friday, we got to enjoy one of these fine moments at the end of the 180.2km stage 5 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, which journeyed from Hondarribia to Ondarroa over a hilly course that, at least on paper, should have made it easy for the peloton to control the race.

©David Ramos / Getty Images

Deceuninck – Quick-Step had other plans, and for that reason sent two riders – Josef Cerny and Mikkel Honoré – in a six-man break that was kept at no more than three minutes by a peloton keen on bringing it back together for the final kilometers in Ondarroa. Surprisingly for many, the sextet arrived at the bottom of the Urkaregi ascent with a two-minute gap, spreading panic in the bunch. The group splintered there under the impetus of Cerny and Honoré, who kept pushing only with Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) for company.

At ten kilometers to go, the trio still had one minute over the bunch, who despite their furious chase didn’t make inroads into the gap, and that was mainly thanks to the Czech National ITT Champion, who buried himself at the front on the rolling roads to Ondarroa. On a short drag inside the last five kilometers, Mikkel got out of the saddle and opened a gap, with Josef following suit when he sensed the Frenchman couldn’t follow.

The duo kept pedalling smoothly as they rode under the flamme rouge, where they carried a healthy lead of around 40 seconds. With 200 meters to go, they both sat up and bumped fists as they made their way towards the finish side by side. Mikkel took the win, becoming the first Danish rider in more than two decades to claim a stage at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, with Josef finishing at his side and making it a truly memorable day for Deceuninck – Quick-Step.

“It was our goal to be in the breakaway and once we got there, we worked very hard to remain as much as possible at the front. With our gap standing at one minute on the climb, it looked like a hard task, but we gave everything there and continued pushing. In the closing kilometers, I jumped on the short hill and waited for Josef at the top so we could go together to the line. He was incredible today and I want to point out that this isn’t my victory, but a win shared by the two of us, because I wouldn’t have made it without him. Getting to the line together with a teammate and celebrating a victory is one of the most beautiful things in cycling”, said an emotional Mikkel after Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 15th win of the season.

“A memorable day for us. When we went into the break, our goal was to make the most out of this opportunity and I’m happy with how things panned out in the end. We believed in ourselves, kept the pace high in the finale and delivered a great team effort. That’s why we can be proud of what we achieved, as it’s a day we’ll always remember”, added Josef after contributing to the team’s magnificent display in the Basque Country.


Primoz Roglic was satisfied after a trouble-free day. The Slovenian is now focusing on tomorrow’s stage. “Today was the least difficult day here in the Basque Country. Nevertheless, the pace was again very high. We were able to save some energy for tomorrow. That will be the decisive stage. Of course we will do everything we can to win this race tomorrow. We need a good strategy to make it difficult for the competition.”

Brandon McNulty: “Today was tough with the wind and the speed but we did what we could to save energy. I guess I’m a little nervous but it’s been quite exciting to lead a race at this level. We’re in a really strong position with myself and Tadej in the mix for the GC. It could be rain tomorrow but my best results have always been in the wet which is surprising as I’m from the desert, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Tadej Pogačar: “Today’s stage was a little less stressful than yesterday’s, but it was still a tough day: we faced challenging stages day after day, so tomorrow it will not be easy to deal with such a hard finish. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. Our goal is to ensure that the team manages to win and keep the leaders jersey. We hope to be able to defend it”.

Dion Smith (BikeExchange): “It was super fast and technical stage; we knew the breakaway was strong so the bunch didn’t give them much time, but I think all the teams riding underestimated how strong they were. With about five kilometres to go it was clear the group wasn’t coming back.

I’m super grateful for the boys riding for me. In the final I put myself in the right position on the last climb but from there to the line I got a bit swamped and couldn’t get out to really have a go so it’s a bit disappointing but we did what we could as a team. Everyone was looking good today and Chaves stayed out of trouble so we can go all in for him tomorrow.”

Ide Schelling (Bora Hansgrohe) “It wanted to try to make the break today. It wasn’t necessarily as hard as yesterday, but at the same time, it was far from easy. The group was very strong and we rode a hard tempo the entire day. Although our advantage was never that big, I think we nevertheless worked well together. On the last climb I was pretty much at the limit and when the two Deceuninck-Quickstep riders attacked the legs were just not good enough to follow them. But it was a good experience to have.” –

Julien Bernard (Trek Segafredo) “I was really motivated again today to go in the break because yesterday I missed it,” said Bernard. “Yesterday there was really a lot of attacks and it went on the climb, and today there was less teams thinking about the chance of the break. But still, the peloton was really motivated to catch us, and it was nice to see the breakaway beat the peloton. It does not happen so often, so that was quite nice”.

“It’s a hard race for me, and I need to take a decision which day is good for me. I don’t ride for the GC so I can keep more energy in other days to focus for one stage. Today and yesterday, I think were good stages for me, and tomorrow will be much harder. Today was my last chance. Also, normally each stage race I reach at least one breakaway, and yesterday I was a bit disappointed to not make one yet, so today I was really, really motivated and I put all-in.”

Julien explained: “I was just empty at the end. I needed to make a decision at 5kms to go: to follow Honoré and for sure Cerny will attack after, or I start my time trial to keep the 3rd place. After the [last] climb I saw straightaway they were stronger than me, so I needed to decide what is the best for me, and I think the best was the 3rd place. It’s not a victory for sure but I think it was the best result I could have today. I would have been really disappointed if the bunch caught me in the last 500 meters. At the end, I took a decision, and I think it was a good one,” added Bernard. “I think it was a good result – it is a hard race, a hard level, and I think I can be proud of this.”

Daryl Impey: “We were two guys down from the start, but that didn’t stop us from committing to a plan. We gave it everything, and it’s a real shame we walk away with 4th; it didn’t reflect on what we did as a team. It was a fantastic performance, and we took the race by the scruff of the neck and were beaten by a more substantial group in front. Hats off to them.”

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