|Pic by Michelena DiarioVasco|
Good weather fortunately and a good race. RSNT looked aggressive and made it to the first break-away with Bushe. It also included: Landa, Zandio, Madrazo, Cherel, Paterski and Txurruka. They started the first climb of the day - Alto de Asensio (2ª): 8 km 4,37% average - with a slight advantage and got caught before the KOM. Only Txurruka managed to stay away immediately joined by RSLT Laurent Didier. The peloton pulled by Saxo-Tinkoff set a solid pace, controlling but allowing the breakers to gain till 5''.
They passed Alto de Asensio (2ª) then Alto de Itziar (3ª) 5 km 4,40% average in the splendid scenary of Euskal Herria. Finally both break-away and peloton reached Alto de Endoia (2º) and then Azurki's ramp (1ª): the hardest part of today stage. Alto de Azurki (1ª) is 5,5 km 7,82% average. Gap was dramaticly decreasing. We got the image of the race and I think I spotted Andy Schleck quite in front.
When the peloton passed Alto de Azurki the gap was 2'22''. Then they afforded a beautiful descent: large and regular. Break and peloton started climbing Alto de Kalbario - (3ª), 4,4km 5,07% average - almost at the same time: gap was about 1' and Txurruka speeded up trying to go away solo. Didier dropped was quickly back to the peloton. The brave Baque rider was also caught on the last climb: el Alto de Aiastia - (2ª) 4,8 km 5,42% average.
A new race begane: team were fighting for positions at the head of the peloton. At the back somebody was suffering. There was a crash: Devenyns and Van den Broeck went down and many others had to stop. Andy Schleck was at the back of the peloton so I guess he lost some time. Finally a fast descent where Contador took the lead making a last selection: a small group of riders arrived at the sprint and ORICA-GE Gerrans won on Peter Velits and Vicioso.
Didier said: “Yes, 110km in the front. I was told I was free to go and in the first days you never know how things will go so it’s good to be in the breaks and see what happens. I am trying to do my best for the team. In the past we’ve come with clear race leaders but now we are free to go. I like giving myself a chance.”
Andy Schleck finished 80 at 1'01''.