Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) won the 2018 Tour of the Basque Country overall on Saturday’s final stage, holding on to win by a 1-09 advantage over Mikel Landa (Movistar) in second.
On a short and punchy 122.2km stage featuring eight climbs, Roglič came under severe pressure from Landa’s Movistar squad after quickly finding himself isolated with no team-mates, but was able to ride well enough to hold on up the final climb to take victory.
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Landa had attacked on the final climb with his team-mate Nairo Quintana, but Roglič maturely held back and rode at his own pace up the climb before working with other riders over the flat section to the finish, 42 seconds behind Landa – enough to claim the overall win.
Enric Mas added Quick-Step’s third stage win of the week in the Basque Country, attacking from the breakaway at the foot of the final climb.
He quickly gained 20 seconds on the chasers behind, with Quintana attempting to pull him back before Landa tried his luck.
There was nothing they could do to stop him though, and the Spaniard was able to celebrate across the line as he took his first pro win.
How it happened
The short nature of the stage meant riders with no GC ambitions were keen to find their way into the break. But the GC teams were rightly cautious, making sure the right combination of riders were allowed to get out front.
That meant that while dribs and drabs of riders made it out front, it took until 65km to go on the stage for a break to take it’s final form, with 14 riders in the front group, including Carlos Verona (Mitchelton-Scott), Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Sky), David Lopez (Sky), Jesper Hansen (Astana), Gregor Mülhberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Carlos Betancur (Movistar), Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Jose Herrada (Cofidis), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha Alpecin).
They reached a maximum gap of almost 3-30 before the peloton gradually pulled them back over the huge amount of climbing on the stage.
Behind in the peloton, Movistar tried their luck with pressuring race leader Roglič, with Quintana and Landa attempting moves, but were marked closely by the yellow jersey.
With 20km to go and 35 seconds back to the peloton, attrition had taken it’s toll and the break was now down to four riders: Mas, De Gendt, Mülhberger and Verona.
They looked doomed as that gap continued to close down, with just 10 seconds or so in hand at the foot of the final, brutal climb.
But Mas quickly decided to make his move and was briefly tracked by De Gendt. The 23-year-old’s pace was too much for the Belgian though, and he quickly found himself 20 seconds behind.
As the peloton hit the final climb, Quintana was the first to hit out, bridging to De Gendt before going alone, but failed to make many inroads on Mas.
With 4km to go and the steepest section of the climb still to come, Landa then tried his luck and attacked over to Quintana. Roglič was dropped but maintained a steady pace, falling 30 seconds or so behind the Basque rider in second place overall at 1-57.
Third place overall Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) also went clear, but remained between Landa and the Roglič group.
Landa quickly was forced to go solo as Quintana tired, but wasn’t able to gain on Mas out in front, eventually finishing 12 seconds down on the Quick-Step rider.
Slovenian Roglič was by now working with a number of other dropped riders on the flatter section towards the finish, and was able to finish the stage comfortably within the overall time gap to Landa at 42 seconds behind.
Tour of the Basque Country 2018, stage six: Eibar to Arrate (122.2km)
1 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors, 3-17-34
2 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team, at 12s
3 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida, at 27s
4 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 30s
6 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 45s
7 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 47s
8 Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 54s
9 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo
10 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, same time
Final general classification
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, in 20-53-47
2 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team, at 1-09
3 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida, at 1-42
4 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3-14
5 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 3-17
6 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors, at 3-29
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 3-50
8 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team, at 4-14
9 David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky, at 4-15
10 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 5-30