Tony Martin broke away to win the second stage of the Tour of Basque Country on Tuesday, while overall leader Alberto Contador maintained his 14-second advantage.
Martin was among seven cyclists who moved away from the peloton, with the German cyclist pulling ahead of a breakaway group featuring Maxim Montfort and Jan Bakelandts approximately 10km from the finish.
“At 15km to go, we knew to try and win this race — so I attacked the breakaway,” said Martin, who won a leg that included four categorized climbs by 30 seconds in a total time of 3 hours, 46 minutes, 17 seconds.
Contador allowed the breakaways to ride out of sight as he stayed near closest challenger Alejandro Valverde, who attempted to escape late in the 155.8km stage, but to no avail.
“Alejandro attacked and I would have done the same thing if I was in his situation,” Contador said. “There were spots where you could go for it, but I was very attentive to respond.”
Contador, a former Tour de France champion, leads Valverde with an overall time of 7 hours, 51 minute, 54 seconds for Tinkoff-Saxo, while Omega Pharma-Quick-Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland was third, 34 seconds back.
“It wasn’t a day where moves were made, but where a lot of energy was spent,” Contador said.
Martin’s first win of the season gave Omega Pharma-Quick-Step their 20th stage victory this season.
“This morning I was really motivated. Everybody wanted to try and go,” the German rider said. “It was the perfect situation. We collaborated really well with the other guys in the breakaway.”
The five-stage race was to continue yesterday with a 194.7km phase from Urdax to the Basque region’s capital of Vitoria.