- What a hard stage! Honestly, already before the last climb I was on the limit, but when we started climbing to Arrate, I just gave my all to be as high as possible. It was a tough week and every day I tried to be in front, fighting with the best riders. And now, I found myself at 8th place in the general classification. I can say, I am pretty happy with it. This is my second Top-10 in a WorldTour race after last year’s Tour de Suisse, so for me it is a step ahead. That’s a good point. I am still on my way to the best form, which I hope to reach at the Giro d’Italia. So, this week brings me a lot of confidence that everything is going by plan, - said Pello Bilbao.
Another Astana Team rider Jesper Hansen, who spent, in general, a good week, finished 15th in the final general classification of the race.
The final and the most difficult stage 6 of the race started today in Eibar. The riders faced 8 categorized climbs on the distance of 122,2 km, including the final monstrous climb Usartza in Arrate. The bad weather with some cold and rain just made this day even harder.
The stage started with a big crash, where the GC leader Primoz Roglic was involved. Anyway, later the peloton could come back together. A group of 14 riders went away from the peloton on the third climb of the day and Astana’s Jesper Hansen was there.
Already with two climbs to go there were some strong attacks from the peloton, but, finally, the group of GC contenders came together to the bottom of Usartza, the final climb to Arrate. At the climb all riders from an early breakaway were caught, with exception of Enric Mas, who could hold his minimal advantage until the finish line, taking a solo win. Behind him the double attack of Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa has split the group in parts. Landa dropped the GC leader Roglic and finished second behind Mas, winning 48 seconds to the Slovenian rider, but that was not just enough to change anything in the overall classification.
Thus, Primoz Roglic became the final winner of the Itzulia Basque Country, while Mikel Landa took second podium place. The race podium was completed by Ion Izagirre.
Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto