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"In hindsight, maybe we shouldn’t have let two Omega Pharma - Quick-Step riders get in the break. That meant Bakelants could do most of the work and let Tony relax before attacking near the end and going all the way to the finish...

Photo: Sirotti

ITZULIA BASQUE COUNTRY

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MIKEL NIEVE

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TEAM SKY

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08.04.2014 @ 20:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Team Sky had big hopes for Ben Swift in today's stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Brit dutifully won the bunch sprint. Unfortunately, Tony Martin had managed to stay away and the British team admitted to having made a tactical mistake early in the stage.

 

Ben Swift continued his strong run of form with second place on day two of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

 

The Brit unleashed a strong kick to win the bunch sprint into Dantxarinea after the peloton had been unable to catch Tony Martin on the run for home.

 

Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) accelerated away from his fellow escapees and held off the chasing pack by 30 seconds at the line, while Swift hit out early and narrowly edged Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) in a photo finish.

 

Team Sky had hit the front in the closing stages in a bid to shut down the day's strong breakaway effort, but on an undulating run-in, multiple time trial world champion Martin was able to stretch his legs and remain clear.

 

Despite going down in an early crash, Mikel Nieve maintained seventh in the general classification, 36 seconds behind overnight leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). The yellow jersey had to remain alert in the closing stages, as a pair of ramps on the run for home saw determined accelerations from nearest rival Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

 

After the stage Sports Director Dan Frost admitted that, although the win had been the aim, he was pleased with the way in which the team worked and rallied around Nieve following his crash.

 

"The team committed really well today - and Ben was committed at the end - so it’s a shame that one rider managed to stay away," said the Dane.

 

"It wasn’t just us who were trying to chase the break down. Tinkoff-Saxo controlled for most of the day and Orica-GreenEdge and BMC also helped us try to close the gap. Tony Martin was just super strong and it was a great ride from him.

 

"In hindsight, maybe we shouldn’t have let two Omega Pharma - Quick-Step riders get in the break. That meant Bakelants could do most of the work and let Tony relax before attacking near the end and going all the way to the finish line.

 

"We used up quite a lot of energy chasing back on after Mikel crashed at around the 90km mark, so maybe that played a part as well. Most of the team stopped for him and then worked hard to get him back in the peloton.

 

"Thankfully Mikel’s OK and he had no problems finishing in the front group at the end. Our main goal is defending Mikel’s position on the GC, but we’ll try again with Ben in the sprint tomorrow and if he can do the same sprint then we should be right in contention."

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