Itzulia Basque Country
Stage 4) Vitoria - Arrigorriaga
Deceuninck – Quick-Step hit again by bad luck at Vuelta al Pais Vasco
In terms of route, it wasn’t the toughest day of the 59th Vuelta al Pais Vasco, but the annoying rain and low temperatures that decided they would join the party really complicated matters for the riders who rolled out from Vitoria and headed to Arrigoriaga, which was hosting a finish for the first time in history.
An eight-man breakaway animated the stage for the better part of it, only to be caught by the peloton some 14 kilometers from home. A prominent Deceuninck – Quick-Step delegation began making its way to the front, in order to put Enric Mas in a good position for the start of the Zaratamo climb, which featured a 10% maximum gradient in the last 500 meters, but a crash that took place on a right-hand bend took neo-pro Mikkel Honoré, Enric Mas and Pieter Serry to the ground.
Unlike Julian Alaphilippe, who was forced to stop the race due after being involved in a big pile-up twenty-four hours earlier in Estibaliz, they fortunately didn’t sustain any serious wounds and could continue, but it was game over for Mas in terms of going for the stage win when four riders broke clear, despite a strong effort of Dries Devenyns, who did his best to bring the Spaniard back to the pack.
“The guys did a good job today and stayed around Enric. It was a hard stage, with the rain and the cold, but we were near the front of the bunch going into the closing kilometers. A rider in front of us went down and then three of our guys hit the deck as well. Mas returned on his bike and Dries brought him back to the bunch, but his bike was damaged and couldn’t follow the four guys who attacked”, sports director Klaas Lodewyck explained after the stage. “It’s been a rough couple of days for the team with all these crash-marred finales, but we need to keep the morale high and make sure we are up there again tomorrow.”
Photo credit: ©Gonzalo Moreno Arroyo/ Getty Images