Bevin finishes 7th, enjoys top company
Woods keeps it close
Israel Start-Up Nation achieved the two main goals of the day with a top time trial performance from specialist Patrick Bevin and, even more importantly, Mike Woods staying very much in contention for the upcoming five days in the Itzulia Basque Country stage race.
Woods was the primary concern, as nobody wanted to see our leader and GC contender out of the game so early.
And after that 14 km TT, which climbed above Bilbao and then gradually descended towards the finish, there was a sigh of relief. Woods was solid throughout, and although he finished 1:07 minutes behind the leader Roglic, there was a lot of optimism in the air, looking ahead.
“It was a good day for me, and I am quite happy with my TT,” said our top Canadian climber. “Sure, I lost a minute to Roglic, but I am still in contention with many of the climbers around here, and with the way the course suits me, there are a few opportunities to close gaps and fight to finish top 10 and even top 5 in the overall.”
That’s not an overly optimistic view at all. Looking at the following five stages, all but one present plenty of opportunities for the climbers. “Considering that Mike is not a TT specialist, I am happy with the outcome,” said our head sports director in the race, Oscar Guerrero. “He is pretty close to many GC contenders here and ahead of some great climbers. We will have plenty of opportunities to attack and take advantage, and I am sure that Roglic and his team will have to labor pretty hard to control, so that it will be pretty exciting.”
Bevin, a TT specialist, performed as advertised, finishing 7th with the same time as the two riders ahead of him, including Tadej Pogacar. “My performance was good,” he said. “I enjoyed getting the first stage underway and look forward to the rest of the week.”
Stage 2, a 154 km up and down (including three categorized climbs), will end in a short and steep uphill. Expect some fireworks out there in the battle to win the stage. Woods and teammates are planning to be very much part of the action.
Stage 1 TT for the ISN men:
Patrick Bevin 0:28 (behind winner Primoz Roglic)
Krists Neilands 0:47
Daryl Impey 0:54
Mike Woods 1:07
Ben Hermans 1:26
Alex Cataford 1:43
James Piccoli 2:09