Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) took a maiden WorldTour victory on stage two of Itzulia Basque Country, and took over the overall lead from Great Britain’s Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers).
The Dutch rider managed to beat Matteo Sobrero (Jayco-AUIla) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) to the line from a select group to record his second ever career victory in Leitza.
On a tricky, very technical descent, Schelling moved to the head of a select group containing 30 riders. Once they were off the descent, the group that had formed faced a high speed dash to the finish line.
In the end, Sobrero and Gaudu couldn’t match Schelling’s final turn of speed, which enabled the Dutchman to power away to victory.
After he crossed the line, Schelling criticised the “way too dangerous” finish.
“It’s a bit strange that the UCI allows this final because it’s way too dangerous in my opinion. You see it also with crashes in the final kilometres on the downhill,” he said.
“The last kilometre was ok, but just to send a full peloton in a downhill like this is just asking for problems. It’s not good. Most teams were not expecting a sprint, I believe, but still I saw it coming with a final climb this easy. It is what it is. For me it wasn’t too dangerous and I was lucky I could find a gap in the final kilometre.”
Schelling now leads the race by four seconds from Sobrero, Gaudu sits in third at six seconds back.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After Ethan Hayter took victory on the opening stage, stage two was largely expected to be a day for the climbers. The peloton faced 192 kilometres of racing between Viana and Leitza, the parcours included four categorised climbs, before a descent to the finish.
Once the flag dropped, several riders formed a small breakaway which quickly built a seven minute advantage. They were Jon Barrenetxea (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Txomin Juaristi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Javier Romo (Astana Qazaqstan), Jesus Ezquerra (Burgos-BH), Carlos Garcia Pierna (Kern Pharma), and Alan Jousseaume (TotalEnergies).
With 47 kilometres to go, Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) launched an acceleration from the peloton as the riders took on the steep Saldias climb. Carapaz was quickly reeled back in, then Mikel Landa of Bahrain Victorious kicked away from the bunch, leading to a furious chase behind him.
Landa soon caught some of the remnants of the breakaway, which included Juaristi, Barrenetxea, and Ezquerra. Meanwhile back down the road, Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) got to work on the front of the main pack as they looked to reduce the gap to the Spaniard on Bahrain Victorious.
As they powered down the descent from Saldias, Landa and Barrenetxea pushed on from the second group on the road. The duo soon caught the final two riders left in front, Jousseaume and Romo.
With 31 kilometres to the finish, the leading quartet had 45 seconds on the peloton as they approached the second intermediate sprint point at Donetzbe. With bonus seconds on offer, Landa looked to steal them all with the general classification in mind.
In the end, it wasn’t contentested and Landa took all three.
After the sprint point, the riders were straight onto the second ascent of the Arkiskil climb. The riders had previously tackled it from the west, and were now heading up from the east before descending towards Leitza down the ascent they had previously climbed.
As the race continued, the gap to the Landa led group had been reduced to just 13 seconds. With 20 kilometres to go, Movistar and Groupama FDJ were working hard on the front of the main field as they shredded the gap. Landa was soon caught, but Lillian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) countered over the top with a rider from Caja Rural, Abel Balderstone.
As the peloton began the descent, any riders left out front were soon swallowed up as the main field touched 70 kmph. Jumbo-Visma and Movistar led the charge downhill to the finish.
With three kilometres to go, Dani Martinez of Ineos Grenadiers suffered a mechanical issue, and a group of ten riders moved clear on the fast and technical descent led by Alex Aranburu (Movistar).
Once they were off the descent, Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) moved to the front of the group, and was unmatched as they powered towards the line.
Schelling took first, with Matteo Sobreo (Jayco-AIUla) in second, and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) in third.
ITZULIA BASQUE COUNTRY 2023, STAGE TWO RESULTS:
1. Ide Schelling (NED) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 04:53:33
2. Matteo Sobrero (ITA) Jayco-AIUla,
3. David Gaudu (FRA) Groupama-FDJ,
4. Alex Aranburu (SPA) Movistar,
5. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Emirates,
6. Andrea Bagioli (ITA) Soudal Quick-Step,
7. Rigoberto Uran (COL) EF Education-EasyPost,
8. Cristian Scaroni (ITA) Astana Qazaqstan,
9. Simon Guglielmi (FRA), Arkea-Samsic
10. Ruben Guerreiro (POR) Movistar, all at same time
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE THREE
1. Ide Schelling (NED) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 08:54:47
2. Matteo Sobrero (ITA) Jayco-AIUla, at 4s
3. David Gaudu (FRA) Groupama-FDJ, at 6s
4. Mikel Landa (SPA) Bahrain Victorious, at 7s
5. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Jumbo-Visma, at 8s
6. Alex Aranburu (SPA) Movistar, at 10s
7. Andrea Bagioli (ITA) Soudal Quick-Step,
8. Cristian Scaroni (ITA) Astana Qazaqstan,
9. Mattias Skjelmose (DEN) Trek-Segafredo,
10. Richard Carapaz (COL) EF Education-EasyPost, all at same time