Ion Izagirre chased the stele of Pello Bilbaowinner two days before, but above all he followed the trail of himself, that of that talented cyclist who had collected victories in the three majors and who had already triumphed in a great alpine day in Morzine in 2016. That’s how things are in sports. After five years without Spanish victories in the Tour, a total of 100 stages without wetting, Bilbao broke the drought Tuesday at Issoire. And in the same week, another Basque, Izagirre has irrigated the crop field with another great success in Belleville en Baujolais, land of wines. Here’s to Ion. The departure from Euskadi It has been a talisman.
The youngest of the Izagirres, 34 year old Guipúzcoanmade a bet on the escapee group, with an attack at 30 kilometers and a solo ride that he managed to finish off with quality to reap the second Spanish victory in this edition, but also the second victory of Cofidis, who has broken an even more incredible streak. The French team had not won a stage since 2005 and already has two in 2023, that of Victor Lafay in San Sebastian and this Thursday. Ion, like Pello, celebrated the triumph with tears. In his case, for the memory of his daughter Iraiawho turned four years old on an unforgettable date.
Before a stage is held, with the profile graph in hand, it is usual to always do a route forecast: propitious for sprinting, propitious for escaping, propitious for ambushes, propitious for fans, propitious for the men of the general… The day is always propitious for something. Sometimes you also have to look a little further to make the forecast: what has happened in the previous day and what will come in the next. The profile of this Thursdaywith five cumulative raises in a demanding mid-mountain layoutpointed to a relatively consented fugue, and more taking into account that this Friday starts a triptych of great mountain with a high arrival at the Grand Colombier. The escape ended up being fulfilled, but before there was a heat of almost one hundred kilometers, at a dizzying average of 45.9 km/hwhich was nothing like any previous pool. The stage was propitious… for madness.
Nobody saved anything for the coming harshness. The race started at a thousand, as planned, in search of a break that was never consolidated. And that the candidates were cyclists with black feet, illustrious classicists like Van Aert, Van der Poel, Alaphilippe, Pedersen… One reason that the adventurers did not open a gap was due to the two colossi of this edition, Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard, who wanted to always be in the leading group, one close to the other, like two limpets. So two hours were thrown away, attack goes and attack comes. A rhythm that did a lot of damage and that broke the race several blocks. Kuss, Landa, O’Connor, Powless were left behind. with her polka dot jersey… And it was never heard from again. The battle was so hot that the information became a chaos, the official Tour and the unofficial media. Who is in front? Who is behind? It was difficult to define the situation. Do we call the leading group a peloton or is it the breakaway?
Things stabilized with about eighty kilometers to go, more or less with the intermediate sprint that Pedersen scored. It was then that the breakaway was finally formed, with fifteen applicants that included the presence of men from classics such as Benoot, Alaphilippe and Van der Poelwho cheered up after suffering several days with some health problems. VDP tried one of their own at more than forty kilometers, but it was not going to be their day. There were also other habitual hunters like Pinot, Teuns and Martin; other warriors of Movistar, Guerreiro and Jorgenson; and a Spaniard, Basque to be exact, who followed the victorious path of Pello Bilbao: he was Ion Izagirre’s turn.