Trek-Segafredo needed to pass the first two days at Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) without incident, the only goal to keep last year's winner Alberto Contador protected to save him as much energy as possible ahead of the bigger challenges, beginning in stage three tomorrow.
The 173-kilometer race ended in a bunched sprint won by Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) as Contador crossed the line safely with his teammates – today, no late crash to raise anxieties, only a punctured tire far from the finish that was quickly settled.
"We were going over a wide road, and I hit something with the wheel, but we were still 50kms to go, and although it was going very fast, I changed the wheel with (Andre) Cardoso, and we solved the issue with no problems.
"It was a stage where we had to be attentive to the wind. Although it was not intense enough to split the peloton, we still had to stay focused. In the final, we had to be well placed because there was a lot of tension and any fall can cause you to lose time. The team helped me, and we managed the day without any incident."
There were no significant changes in the overall classification, and most of the peloton still shares the same time. Michael Matthews (Sunweb) retained the yellow leader's jersey with a fourth place in the sprint.
Tomorrow's stage has a total of six climbs beginning after 45 kilometers and will see the first separation in the overall classification. The hills come in succession with the last ascent - a category three stinger – topping out 10 kilometers from the finish.
"Once the climbs arrive, the nerves disappear, and each one goes as their legs work," explained Alberto, glad to see more of his favored terrain tomorrow. "That makes the race calmer. We must be alert to any movements because there are very explosive riders here."
All photos ©Bettiniphoto