A Basque rider hasn’t won this stage race since 2003, but Ion Izagirre took his chances today, handily supported by his Astana team, and took the final prize. Izagirre was part of an audacious five-man group, all with podium ambitions, that got away 65kms from the finish in today’s final stage, managing to sufficiently distance Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) in yellow and maintain its advantage to the line. While the stage was won by Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Izagirre, greatly assisted by teammate Jakob Fuglsang, finished a single second back in fourth place but with enough of a margin to take the overall from Dan Martin (UAE Emirates), second on the stage and second overall. After some misdirection at the finish and much confusion, over an hour after the race had finished, former race leader Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) rounded out the podium (but Fuglsang got the Cava celebration).
Nail-biting tension was maintained until the end of the final stage individual time trial in this year’s Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Race leader Alejandro Valverde crossed the line after a typically ballsy effort to finish second on the stage to Primoz Roglic and, more importantly, increased his cushion over runner-up Alberto Contador to take his first Pais Vasco title. Local rider Ion Izagirre (and his bonny baby) rounded out the podium to the delight of Basque fans.
Oh my, what a final day of racing at both the Tour de Suisse and Aviva Women’s Tour. It’s days like these that remind us all why we LOVE this mad, crazy, emotional sport.