Italian Fabio Felline edged out Australia’s Michael Matthews by half a wheel-length to win the second stage, but the Orica-GreenEdge rider maintained his overall lead at the Tour of the Basque Country on Tuesday.
The Trek Factory Racing rider’s powerful sprint appeared to catch first-stage winner Matthews by surprise and, although the Australian pushed hard on the 175.4km ride from Bilbao to Vitoria, Matthews was unable to prevent Felline winning in a time of 4 hours, 32 minutes and 32 seconds, with France’s Tony Gallopin in third.
However, Matthews retains the overall lead, having won the opening stage on Monday.
“I did not wait for Matthews, today I started my sprint first,” Felline said. “I was in a good position at the end and I was right to go early.”
“I knew I had good legs and I came here with the intention to win a stage. With 40k to go I had a puncture, but the team was there to help me. All day they trusted in me. It is thanks to my team that I won. This is a dream,” Felline said.
The riders were split by an early Category 1 climb to the Orduna summit, but the chasing pack closed in on the breakaway group, lining a mass sprint finish at Vitoria, the capital of the northern Basque region.
Polish world champion Michal Kwiatowski was fourth, as race favorite Nairo Quintana finished safely amongst the peloton.
The start of the stage was delayed by a five minute protest from the riders in response to a serious crash toward the end of Monday’s first stage, which left five riders suffering bad injuries and the cause of the accident blamed on poorly marked traffic bollards.
Peter Stetina of the United States suffered fractures around his right knee and broke several ribs while fellow countryman Danny Pate sustained fractures around his left elbow.
Spain’s Sergio Pardilla snapped his left wrist, French rider Nicolas Edet fractured his collarbone and several ribs and Adam Yates of Britain fractured bones in his right hand, hospital statements said.
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