Daryl Impey made it two for two in the Basque Country as he sprinted to victory in Vitoria. The South African took advantage of a fantastic lead out from Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews in the field sprint finish to stage two. Impey stumbled into his first WorldTour win on the second stage of Vuelta Pais Vasco last year when he gapped the field as he led out Allan Davis. This year, Impey was the intended final rider in the ORICA-GreenEDGE sprint train.
Impey Benefiting in Hands Free Fashion
“It’s a fantastic win,” said Impey. “It was a bit like last year, really. The whole team was involved with the result. Christian Meier and Michael Albasini did all of the early work. Wes Sulzberger, Simon Clarke and Pieter Weening did their bit in the final. From there, I had two of the fastest guys in the race as my lead out.”
After winning stage one, Gerrans stood on the start line in Elgoibar in yellow. The team hoped to successfully defend the jersey while targeting the stage victory.“It was a nice feeling to have the yellow jersey,” said Gerrans. “It’s not every day that you get to be the leader of such a prestigious race. There was a lot of support on the roadside, and I got a few pats on the back in the peloton as well. It’s not something I thought I’d keep until the end of the race, but it was nice to have it today.”
Christian Meier took responsibility for the bulk of the early work. Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) slipped away from the bunch shortly after the official start had been given. The Basque rider was on the hunt for points in the mountain classification.Like yesterday, the stage featured a categorised climb inside the final ten kilometres. Txurruka was back in the bunch by the time the peloton hit the lowers slopes of the Alto de Zaldiaran. Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard Trek) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) had bridged across to Txurruka in the build-up to the final climb. Voigt rejoined the peloton shortly before the summit, and Malori and a few counter-attackers were brought back on the descent.“In the last few kilometres, everybody could see that Simon, Michael Matthews and Daryl Impey were in the perfect place,” added Stephens. “What most people didn’t see is the work that Clarkey and Wes did to get them there. It was a really complicated puzzle of a finish, and we did it well to pull off such a fantastic result.”Just inside the final three kilometres, Gerrans was a visible force on the front of the bunch. He took a huge turn, leading the peloton into the final right-hand bend. Coming out of the corner, Matthews took over from Gerrans until Impey opened up his sprint 175 metres from the finish line.
“Most of the job was already done by the time I started my sprint,” said Impey. “I was in a great position, and I had really good legs. When you have the guy in the yellow jersey doing the lead out, it really highlights the team’s commitment to one another.”Although he won the opening stage yesterday and finished on bunch time today, Gerrans ceded the jersey to Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) and dropped down to seventh in the overall standings. Without the jersey, ORICA-GreenEDGE can focus on stage wins and looking after Weening in the upcoming mountains.