Astana Cycling Team (Spain) – Astana Team rider and local hero Omar Fraile took a perfect win today at stage 5 of the Itzulia Basque Country in Eibar. Fraile finished in the leading group of 7 riders, beating in sprint the current GC leader Primoz Roglic and the Spaniard Ion Izagirre.
"I am so happy to win here in Eibar! That’s something incredible. This is my home race and today I was super motivated to do maximum possible. My family and my friends all were there at the finish and I really wanted to win. It was not easy to go in a break, but finally, I was able to follow the decisive attack to catch the right group. Yeah, it was a group with a lot of good riders and we worked pretty well. I knew the last climb and as it was expected, there was a head wind. So, when I saw the group of the leader is coming close, I decided to wait for them and to join that group. I knew I could stay with them until the top and later of the descent, which I knew perfectly as well. It was impossible to make any difference on descent and I saw everything is coming to a sprint. I tried to do it smart inside the final kilometers and in sprint just gave my all to win this stage. Now, I am just super happy!" – said emotional Omar Fraile.
Stage 5 of the race started in Vitoria and finished after 164,7 km in Eibar. There was a real battle to go in a breakaway in the first kilometers, but later, after around 25 km of racing a big group of 14 riders finally went away and Omar Fraile was there. The group took a good advantage of 5 minutes to hold it until the last climb of the day Azurki Gaina.
At this climb it was Mikel Landa, who made at attack from the peloton and just a few could follow him: the overall leader Primoz Roglic and Ion Izagirre. Step by step this small group caught the breakaway of Omar Fraile, who could keep their wheel until the top of the climb and later on descent.
A powerful sprint on the streets of Eibar brought to Astana rider his debut stage win at the Itzulia Basque Country.
Astana’s leader in this race Pello Bilbao did a very strong race as well. After attack of Mikel Landa he lost some ground, but later was able to join a chasing group of GC contenders with Bauke Mollema and Nairo Quintana among the chasers. Finally, Bilbao finished inside this group 1 minute 27 seconds behind Omar Fraile, winning the sprint and taking a nice 8th place in this stage.
"I think, I can be happy with the way I did this stage. I felt quite good today and just in one moment I had a small crisis on the last climb after the race had exploded with attacks. But, I just found my own rhythm and step by step started to come back, finally, catching the group of Mollema. On the second part and on descent I recovered well and even tried to attack to make the difference, but it was not easy. So, we arrived at the finish with this group and I did a good sprint for another stage Top-10. Tomorrow we will have a very tough day on the road, so let’s see, what we can do." - said Pello Bilbao.
Before the final stage of the race Primoz Roglic still holds a comfortable lead in the general classification, having 1 minute 57 seconds to Mikel Landa and 2 minutes 13 seconds to Ion Izagirre. Pello Bilbao moved up to 7th place, +3.30 behind the current leader.
The final 6th and the hardest stage of the Itzulia Basque Country will be held tomorrow: it will be a short 122,2 km distance from Eibar with 8 categorized climbs, including the final famous climb to Arrate.
Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto.