Alex Aranburu solos to stunning victory at Itzulia Basque Country
Alex Aranburu scored the first WorldTour win of his career in spectacular fashion with the Basque rider attacking to win solo on home soil on stage 2 of Itzulia Basque Country. Teammate Omar Fraile won the sprint for second place behind Aranburu to make it an impressive first and second place on the stage for Astana – Premier Tech, the team’s first win of the 2021 season.
Strong teamwork was instrumental to Aranburu’s win in Sestao with the Kazakh – Canadian team taking control of the race in the last 50 kilometres, setting the stage for Aranburu to seize the perfect opportunity to attack with 10 kilometres to go.
“We knew that there would be some movements on the final climb but the downhill was also very important. On the last part of the climb Omar tried and when they counterattacked him, it was my turn to try. I could make a small gap and then I went full gas until the finish. It’s my first victory in a World Tour race. I started well this season but I hadn’t won any races yet. To win at home at Itzulia Basque Country is very special. The team had very good results this year but not a win yet so it’s always nice, even more if it is at home,” said Aranburu.
“I try to be a better rider, year after year. This season I had more confidence and experience for the Classics, and yesterday I also did a good time trial. I’ll try to do my best and let’s see where it takes me. There are still a lot of hard stages to come. I have a good position on GC but we also have strong riders in the team to go for it. We’ll see day by day. I never thought about coming to Itzulia and fighting for GC but I feel good and I also felt good yesterday. Let’s see day by day and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Stefan De Bod and Oscar Rodriguez worked in the first half of the stage to keep the team leaders out of trouble in the wet conditions and on the undulating terrain, before the team rode aggressively in the finale as they tackled the La Asturiana climb. Fraile launched multiple attacks to string the reduced peloton out, and together with Kazakh road race champion Alexey Lutsenko, Jakob Fuglsang, and Ion Izagirre, controlled the situation when Aranburu made the decisive attack and went on to extend his advantage to more than 30 seconds.
Aranburu held a 25-second advantage with two kilometres to go as he approached the final ramp to the finish line and held on to cross the line solo and celebrate the momentous victory in front of his home crowd. Behind, Fraile had the legs to sprint to second place while Izagirre crossed the line in the same group just outside of the top ten, with both Basque riders raising their hands in triumph to celebrate Aranburu’s victory.
After an impressive time trial on stage one when he finished 30 seconds down on stage winner and race leader Primoz Roglic, Aranburu has moved up to second place on the General Classification, five seconds behind Roglic, followed by Fraile who sits in eighth place overall.
“We knew the final of the stage pretty well as we did a good recon on it, so we were aiming for a good result today with Alex Aranburu or Omar Fraile, who are really familiar with these roads. We wanted to do the race hard and I can say that the team worked incredibly together. All riders did an amazing job from start to the decisive kilometres. On the last climb we always had four riders in front, who were covering all attacks and attacked themselves. At the end of the day, it was Alex who made a decisive move which brought us a long awaited victory. We all are really happy as it is our first season win! It toot time to get it but we knew we were on the right way. We have a strong group of riders here and we will be aiming for more in this race,” added Giuseppe Martinelli, Sports Director.
Itzulia Basque Country
Stage 2: Zalla > Sestao (154.8km)
Top 3: 1. Alex Aranburu, 2. Omar Fraile, 3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)
Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 1. Alex Aranburu, 2. Omar Fraile, 11. Ion Izagirre
Photos: Getty Images