New stage winner, new GC leader, same team. Orica-Scott got it right again to win their second stage in a row at Emakumeen Bira, and their third win of the Basque week if we count Van Vleuten’s win at Durango-Durango. It was almost a copy/paste of what happened yesterday, with Katrin Garfoot in the role of Amanda Spratt.
It wasn’t easy at all for the Aussie team, though. There was lots of action throughout the stage. Most of the attacks were short-lived. However, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio’s acceleration on the main climb of the day, the 2nd category Alto de Deskarga, showed she’s the strongest on the mountains at the moment, as no other rider was able to follow her. Cervélo-Bigla may not have the advantage in numbers, but they will be hard to beat in the final two stages, even if Orica-Scott’s aggressive style and tactical smartness are giving them the wins for the time being.
When Garfoot attacked from an elite group of 9 riders, it was clear it was going to be the winning move. The German-born Aussie used her TT skills to open a big gap which was enough to win both the stage and the leader jersey. Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini) was the fastest rider of the first group, ahead of Garfoot’s teammate Annemiek van Vleuten.
Tomorrow’s summit finish at San Miguel de Aralar will be one for the pure climbers even if the gradient is quite unconsistent. Here’s how it looks: