CYCLING: Izagirre claims Itzulia Basque Country with late rush in stages 5-6

A happy Ion Izagirre (ESP), winner of the 2019 Itzulia Basque Country

In multi-stage races like the 59th Itzulia Basque Country – the Tour of the Basque Country – it’s usually the mountains that make the difference. And the uphill fifth stage turned out to be the difference as Spaniard Ion Izagirre claimed his second career World Tour stage-race victory without winning any individual stage.

For the first four days, the race belonged to Germany’s Maximilian Schachmann, who won stages 1-3-4 and had a 51-second lead on the field. But the fifth stage, a 149.8 km trek from Arrigorriaga to Arrate had two miserable climbs; while the race started at 51 m altitude, the Izua at the 111 km mark crested at 539 m and after a steep descent and three more climbs, the finish was all uphill to Arrate at 535 m.

This stage broke the race apart and German Emanuel Buchmann dominated the finish, winning by 1:08 for his first-ever World Tour race win. He finished the stage as the race leader, up 54 seconds on Izagirre – who was third in that stage – and 1:04 over Schachmann.

The final stage was another mountain-climbing exercise, with four major climbs, beginning and finishing in Eibar. Britain’s Adam Yates, one of the pre-race favorites, won the stage from a pack of four chasers, which included Izagirre, who finished one second back.

Buchmann was 1:24 back of the leaders and Schachmann some 3:33 behind, so it was Izagirre who got the overall victory, with Ireland’s Dan Martin the next closest at 29 seconds back and then Buchmann at 31 seconds behind. Buchmann was initially given fourth, but his time was amended after he was led off the course by a broadcast motorcycle and then returned.

Izagirre has long been known as a solid rider, but not a big winner. This was his seventh career World Tour win, and second in a multi-stage event; he won the Tour de Pologne in 2015. He owns stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France and will ride in the Giro this year.

The win also gives Ion more bragging rights against his older brother, Gorka, who owns one career World Tour win, a Giro stage back in 2017. Summaries:

UCI World Tour/Itzulia Basque Country
Spain ~ 8-13 April 2019
(Full results here)

Stage 1 (11.3 km Individual Time Trial): 1. Maximilian Schachmann (GER), 17:10; 2. Daniel Felipe Martinez (COL), 17:19; 3. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), 17:20; 4. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), 17:22; 5. Adam Yates (GBR), 17:26. Also in the top 25: 13. Lawson Craddock (USA), 17:44.

Stage 2 (149.5 km): 1. Alaphilippe (FRA), 3:29:37; 2. Bjorg Lambrecht (BEL), 3:29:38; 3. Kwiatkowski (POL), 3:29:28; 4. Omar Fraile (ESP), 3:29:28; 5. Valentin Madouas (FRA), 3:29:38. Also in the top 25: 24. Peter Stetina (USA), 3:29:46.

Stage 3 (191.4 km): 1. Schachmann (GER), 4:47:57; 2. Diego Ulissi (ITA), 4:47:57; 3. Enrico Battaglin (ITA), 4:47:57; 4. Marc Hirschi (SUI), 4:47:57; 5. Ion Izagirre (ESP), 4:47:57.

Stage 4 (163.6 km): 1. Schachmann (GER), 4:03:55; 2. Tadej Pugacar (SLO), 4:03:55; 3. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), 4:03:56; 4. A. Yates (GBR), 4:03:56; 5. Hirschi (SUI), 4:04:04. Also in the top 25: 14. Craddock (USA), 4:04:04.

Stage 5 (149.8 km): 1. Emanuel Buchmann (GER), 3:44:14; 2. Izagirre (ESP), 3:45:22; 3. A. Yates (GBR), 3:45:22; 4. Fuglsang (DEN), 3:45:22; 5. Pogacar (SLO), 3:45:38.

Stage 6 (118.2 km): 1. A. Yates (GBR), 2:59:46; 2. Dan Martin (IRL), 2:59:47; 3. Fuglsang (DEN), 2:59:47; 4. Izagirre (ESP), 2:59:47; 5. Pogacar (SLO), 2:59:53.

Final Standings: 1. Ion Izagirre (ESP), 19:24:09; 2. Dan Martin (IRL), +0:29; 3. Emanuel Buchmann (GER), +0:31; 4. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), +0:36; 5. Adam Yates (GBR), +0:51; 6. Tadej Pogacar (SLO), +1:36; 7. Mikel Landa (ESP), +2:56; 8. Mikel Nieve (ESP), +3:13; 9. Patrick Konrad (AUT), +3:29; 10. Maximilian Schachmann (GER), +3:44.