Vuelta a Pais Vasco stage one (ITT). Zumarraga - Zumarraga, 11.3km
Michal Kwiatkowski made a strong start on the opening stage time trial at Vuelta al Pais Vasco, finishing third on the tough 11.3km test.
Kwiatkowski finished just 10 seconds off the target time set by Max Schahmann (Bora Hansgrohe) in changeable conditions in Zumarrga with the course drying slowly in places following a downpour during the early stages of the TT.
Geraint Thomas finished ninth overall to make it two Team Sky riders in the top 10, just 30 seconds off the pace set by Schachmann, with both he and Kwiatkowski in contact with the main GC contenders.
The steepness of the main climb on the stage, the 9.5% average Antio, played a role too with both Kwiatkowski and Thomas opting for a bike change mid-TT, starting on their TT bike and ending on their Pinarello Dogma F10 road bikes in order to reap the benefit on the
It was a tactic which paid dividends with both placing in the top 10 and setting up a two-pronged tilt at the overall title.
DS Gabriel Rasch
“We were pretty sure before the stage that It was going to be the right tactic, but after the recon we decided to do the bike change for nearly every rider. Kwiato and G did a good TT and they look like they are in a good place gong forwards.
“We have three stages coming up with three uphill finishes. They look like sprint stages, but they are not for the pure sprinters, every day has some challenges, tomorrow for example has a gravel section late on.
“And each of three stages are ones that Kwiato has a chance of winning, and it will be a case of not losing any time for G, maybe gaining some time before the mountain stages at the weekend.”
Stage one result & overall standings
1. Max Schahmann (Bora Hansgrohe) 17:10
2. Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) +9”
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) +10”
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Deuceuninck Quick-Step) +12”
5. Adam Yates (Mitchelton Scott) +16”
9. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) +30”
Stage two takes the riders on a 149.5km test to Gorraiz on a parcours containing six categorised climbs. While it should be a stern test, the terrain levels out with plenty of time for the sprinters to have a chance at tasting victory, but the uphill finish will provide a sting in the tail.