The Wolfpack lights up Itzulia Basque Country
Trofeo Baracchi has disappeared from the UCI calendar since 1991, but that didn’t stop Mattia Cattaneo and Rémi Cavagna from embarking on their own two-man time trial on the penultimate stage of the Itzulia Basque Country. The Soudal Quick-Step duo attacked after a frantic start and pulled clear on the rolling roads around Amorebieta. What initially was a small margin of just half a minute quickly expanded to four minutes, as the action of the two – reminiscent of the one featuring Julian Alaphilippe and Tony Martin at the 2016 edition of the Tour de France – forced the peloton to ramp up their efforts in order to make up time.
Cattaneo and Cavagna continued to put in a stern fight, leaving everything out there and remaining at the front until 25 kilometers to go, when the bunch eventually reeled them in. Soon after, a series of attacks whittled down the group to around fifteen riders, including Andrea Bagioli, James Knox – our best-placed rider on the general classification – and Mauro Schmid.
The Italian took up sprinting duties at the end of the stage, producing a good turn of legs to finish second just behind Sergio Higuita (Bora-hansgrohe) for the team’s third podium of the week after the ones brought by Mauro on the first and fourth day.
“Our goal was to go in the break, so Rémi attacked. Seeing that there was no reaction from the peloton, Mattia joined along and the two put up a nice show, it was a solid and impressive ride against such a strong peloton. Then the plan was to go with Mauro in the sprint, but he was blocked, so Andrea went for it. It was a good day for us, of course we would have liked to win, but the boys can be proud of what they showed and did on this hard course”, said Soudal Quick-Step sports director Geert Van Bondt.
Photo credit: ©David Ramos / Getty Images