Astana Pro Team rider Francesco Gavazzi is the new leader at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco following a podium sprint finish in Tuesday’s second stage.
Gavazzi, from Italy, finished second behind South African rider Daryl Impey in the 170km stage from Elgoibar to Gasteiz, and with placement bonuses now moves into the overall lead at the six day race in northeastern Spain.
“We had a strong headwind in the sprint, and I knew that Orica-Greenedge had the strongest sprint train here, so I sat behind them in the finish. It’s always better to win a stage than come second, but to take the leader’s jersey is a fantastic consolation,” Gavazzi said.
Astana Pro Team General Manager Alexandr Vinokurov arrived to the race late in the afternoon and found himself in front of a television screen waiting for baggage when the race finished.
“This is great. I only just arrive and already we have a jersey,” Vinokurov said.
Gavazzi, who has won two stages at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in his career, was quick to discount himself as a contender for the final, instead pointing to Astana Pro Team leader Jakob Fuglsang, who finished in the same time as Gavazzi and now sits fourth overall on General Classification.
“Jakob is riding really well, and the profile of this race is hilly with some very steep and long climbs. I can get over the hills, but I am not the favorite. We have a plan to get Astana to the podium here at Pais Vasco, and with the time trial on the final day we have very good chances at this race,” Gavazzi said.