Carlos Rodríguez wins in Basque Country, Evenepoel new leader

Carlos Rodríguez wins in Basque Country, Evenepoel new leader

Friday, April 8, 2022 at 5:21 PM

Carlos Rodríguez has won the fifth stage of the Tour of the Basque Country. In Mallabia, the young Spanish climber from INEOS Grenadiers crossed the finish line solo after initially being part of a seven-man breakaway. Remco Evenepoel took over the leader’s jersey from Primož Roglič.

On the penultimate day of the Tour of the Basque Country, the peloton was presented with a difficult stage. Although the course had no climbs of the highest category, the route was constantly going up and down and the weather conditions could make the ride very difficult. The finish was also for the explosive types, with a 16% gradient in the last kilometer. Just before half past one, the peloton, with Primož Roglič in the leader’s jersey, started.

Nine riders no longer appeared at the start: Sergio Higuita (BORA-hansgrohe), Jan Maas (BikeExchange-Jayco), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Théo Delacroix (Intermarché-Wanty), Mark Donovan, Florian Stork (DSM), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural), Sebastian Berwick (Israel-Premier Tech) and Simon Pellaud (Trek-Segafredo). Along the way, the race would lose even more riders. The rest of the pack got off to a serious day in the saddle. Several riders tried to get away from the start, but after an hour of racing everything was still together.

Flight of the day arrives late
After the second climb of the day, after 65 kilometers, a leading group had formed. Roglič and Jumbo-Visma had sent Sepp Kuss along, the group of attackers also consisted of Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious), Marc Soler (UAE Emirates), Sergio Samitier (Movistar), Carlos Rodríguez (INEOS Grenadiers), Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange-Jayco ) and Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo). With Bilbao (sixth out of 19s) and Marc Soler (fourteenth out of 1.08s), some dangerous men had jumped for the standings.

Soler leads the flight of the day – photo: Cor Vos

Bilbao realized that his presence would never give the leading group much of a lead and dropped back. The remaining six attackers pushed on and started the third climb of the day, with Jumbo-Visma and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl checking behind. In the descent of this Gontzagaraigana, Hamilton literally dropped out of the break. The Australian tumbled over a guardrail, which immediately ended his role in the race. The leading group thinned out further during the fourth climb as Kuss and Samitier let the rest drive.

Elissonde also had to get off, leaving Soler and Rodríguez together. While Soler was the big bike in the leading group, Rodríguez just let himself be carried away. Soler had been virtually leading the standings for a while and wanted to sell his skin dearly. At forty kilometers from the finish, the leading duo still had a four-minute lead. From that moment on, several teams started chasing, causing the lead of the leading duo to slowly but surely start to shrink.

Soler with Rodríguez on his luggage carrier – photo: Cor Vos

Evenepoel makes the course explode
Soler and Rodríguez started the climb to Karabieta with a two-minute lead, twenty kilometers from the finish, the last hurdle before the final climb to Mallabia. In the climb, Remco Evenepoel made the race explode and the Belgian of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl got Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious), Enric Mas (Movistar), Daniel Felipe Martínez (INEOS Grenadiers), Ion Izagirre (Cofidis) and Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA-hansgrohe) along. From the front, Rodríguez drove away from Soler, with whom he was always in the wheel.

Then it was descending to the final part of the day. Rodríguez had a hard time on the difficult final climb, but stayed out of the grasp of the first group of pursuers and recorded his first professional victory. Teammate Martínez completed the celebration for INEOS Grenadiers by crossing the line in second. Evenepoel finished third and took over the leader’s jersey from Primož Roglič. The Belgian will start tomorrow with a two-second lead over Martínez in the final stage with an uphill finish in Arrate.