Race report

Felix Gall on the attack, Ilan Van Wilder moves up on GC

Itzulia Basque Country

The climbing continued at Itzulia Basque Country today, with a brutally steep finish climb on the menu for the riders to Ermualde; which averaged over a leg-sapping ten percent for three kilometres. It was a fast start to the stage with lots of riders looking to make the break and the team were very active at the front. Initially a group of six riders got a gap, but Felix Gall was quick to react and made the bridge to those ahead after a strong effort.

Gall and his breakaway companions worked well together, building up a lead of over seven minutes but soon the peloton started to pace behind and their advantage began to dwindle. As the kilometres ticked by and the finish got closer, the bunch encroached on their gap even further as they increased the speed even further. Nonetheless, it was a spirited effort from Gall who was caught with 15 kilometres to go.

Attention in the team then focused to positioning Mark Donovan and Ilan Van Wilder towards the front of the peloton going into the steep finish climb. On the stinging gradients both riders dug deep, giving it their all to stay with the elite group of climbers for as long as possible. Following on from his 15th place yesterday, Van Wilder impressed again and netted another top 20 result, with Donovan not too far behind either.

“Goal for today was to be in the break again,” explained Gall after the stage. “It was a fast start and quite a big fight. We were all there to cover the attacks and shared the work. On a flat part the bunch slowed down a bit and some guys were going. We almost missed it but I was able bridge the gap to the break. At one point we had a seven minute advantage, so it looked promising but we had a headwind on the second part and the bunch was also going hard so the gap quickly went down. We can only keep trying like we are and maybe we’ll get lucky in the next days.”

Team DSM coach Michiel Elijzen added: “The goal for us was to be in the break today. We succeeded at that and Felix did a good job in there for us but it’s a shame they weren’t allowed to get away for the stage. The guys in the bunch then focused on positioning Mark and Ilan for the finale, with both giving it their all on the steep finish climb. Ilan did well to get another top 20 against strong opposition and move up a few places on GC. The guys are riding well here and we’ll give it another good go tomorrow.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 POGAČAR Tadej UAE-Team Emirates 4:04:50 50
2 ROGLIČ Primož Team Jumbo-Visma ,, 20
3 VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team 0:05 8
17 VAN WILDER Ilan Team DSM 0:34 -
31 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM 1:40 -
50 LEKNESSUND Andreas Team DSM 3:35 -
54 COMBAUD Romain Team DSM 3:40 -
83 VERMAERKE Kevin Team DSM 7:28 -
111 GALL Felix Team DSM 8:48 -
135 TUSVELD Martijn Team DSM 11:55 -