34-year-old (born on May the 11th, 1968) Ukrainian Serguei Outschakov, riding for Poland's CCC-Polsat team, put an end to his 2-year-long negative period on Thursday afternoon, as he won Stage 2 of the "Euskal Bizikleta" ("Bicicleta Vasca", "Basque Bicycle") disputed between Usurbil and Zeanuri, by outsprinting breakaway companions Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa - ONCE-Eroski) and Kyrylo Pospeyev (a young fellow countryman of Oustchakov, riding for Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo). "I haven't been winning anything for the last 2 years, so this victory is a big moral boost, and it's very important for both me and my team" the stage winner said before the Basque TV microphones afterwards. Basque Country's Zarrabeitia is the new Overall Leader of the race.
Stage report :The second leg of the "Euskal Bizikleta" stage-race, from Usurbil to Zeanuri over 163 km. got underway on Thursday's early afternoon in Usurbil town, where 127 riders (three of which would abandon later) took the startline under sunny skies. The stage was immediately off to a hectic start, as several riders went clear and gained some 40" on the peloton. Their names were: Jean Michel Tessier (Fra - Cofidis), David Fernandez (Spa - Relax-Fuenlabrada), Vitali Kokorine (Rus - DeNardi-Pasta Montegrappa), Tino Zaballa (Spa - Kelme), Franck Perqué (Fra - FdJ), Carlos Golbano (Spa - Jazztel), Serguei Outschakov (Ukr - Polsat-Ccc), Angel Edo (Spa - Milaneza) Andrus Aug (Est - De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa). Aug was dropped at the beginning of the first ascent of the day, the Cat. 3 "Alto de Garate", where the first to get to the mountain top was Kelme-Costa Blanca's Zaballa, a "specialist" of KOM primes in Spanish short stage races.
The escapees were reeled in, but a new bunch of "exhibitionists" made their move, and put 30" on the main pack during the following ascent, Alto de Itiar. The new breakway group was made up of two Phonak riders (Martin Elmiger and Marco Fertonani) iBanesto's Eladio Jimenez, ONCE's Mikel Zarrabeitia, Kelme's fellow Spaniard Julian Usano, Lampre's Alessandro Cortinovis, Alessio's Raffaele Ferrara, Frenchmen Clain Médéric (Cofidis) and Carlos da Cruz (FdJ), Portugal's Paulo Barroso, (Milaneza-MSS) and Quintino Rodrigues (Polsat-CCC), plus Russians Smetanine (Jazztel) and Alexander Kolobnev (an Acqua e Sapone's neopro), just to finish the list with Italy's Michele Gobbi (De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa). Kolobnev surprisingly took the KOM sprint from Italy's Ferrara (winner of the 200 baby Giro, when his current and more successful teammate Franco Pellizotti took second).
Once more the peloton brought the escapees back in the following descent, but immediately other riders made their tries. A consistent one came at the km. 70 km. mark as the race hit the coastal town of Lekeitio, where three riders started a new break: Italians Mariano Piccoli (Lampre-Daikin) and Devis Miorin (De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa), plus local rider Iban Herrero (Relax-Fuenlabrada), who took the "Alto de Natxitua" KOM Prime, while 32-year-old Piccoli was the first at the Ispaster "Meta Volante" (km. 76). But this trio followed the steps of previous breakwayas and got caught on the descent.
Then a more important move came from 4 riders: Spain's Jorge Ferrio (Jazztel-Costa de Almeria) and Mikel Artetxe (Euskaltel-Euskadi), but especially two Ukrainians belonging to different "generations": veteran Serguei Outschakov (Polsat-CCC) and young Kyrylo Pospeyev (Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo). The quartet put some 40" on the peloton, but the Iberians got dropped and reabsorbed by the peloton soon, while the East-European kept increasing their lead, who went up to 4'20" at the Intermediate Sprint in Isurtza, won by Outschakov.
The leading duo had a 4' lead at the start of the most difficult ascent of the day, the famous Urkiola climb (scenery of the "Subida a Urkiola" contest, traditionally held on the Sunday following the San Sebastian GP World Cup race in August), but lost close to three minutes on its steep slopes. Nonetheless Kyrylo Pospeyev, who had turned into the virtual Overall Leader of the race, was able to take the KOM Prime, situated 32 kilometres from the finish, ahead of Outschakov, with Nicolas Fritsch (Fra - La Francaise des Jeux) coming in 1'12" behind, and the peloton 1'27" down on the leaders.
Many riders attacked in the peloton, and a group of seven formed. At the Km.148 mark the leaders had a 45" advantage on the seven chasers and 1' over the main peloton. But a few kilometres later the chasers were caught by the peloton.
Then came a great move from another rider, ONCE's Mikel Zarrabeitia, as the Basque succeeded in riding clear from the peloton and bridged the gap to the leders in the last decent of the day (the relative ascent, the Second Category alto de Lamindano climb, saw Pospeyev be the first at the mountain top). This was a fundamental move that earned him the Overall Leader's Blue Jersey, and prevented Popseyev from getting one of the most important satisfactions in his (still young) career.
The trio made it to the finish line, with veteran Outschakov taking the stage from Zarrabeitia (new overall leader) and an exhausted Pospeyev third at 4", while Kelme's "Pipe" Goméz took fourth at 9" and a 14-strong group came in 16" behind, a bunch encompassing ONCE's Marcos Serrano and José Azevedo, as well as Euskaltel's David Etxebarria and Iban Mayo, and Lampre's Raimondas Rumsas who had escaped the peloton in the final part of the race and unsuccessfully tried to bridge the gap. Bad news for another ONCE rider, as a not in-form Joseba Beloki got dropped on the last climb and lost time to the stage winner (some 2 minutes) and many other favorites. Along with Beloki, also Abraham Olano and Juan Manuel Garate lost a signifcative amount of time today.
Stage 2 Results - (Top 20 places & Selected Riders):
1. OUTSCHAKOV, Serguei - Ukr - CCC-Polsat - 4h31'08"
2. ZARRABEITIA, Mikel - Spa - ONCE-Eroski - s.t.
3. POSPYEYEV, Kyryl - Ukr - Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo - at 4"
4. GOMEZ GOZALO, José Javier - Spa - Kelme-Costa Blanca - at 9"
5. ELMINGER, Martin - Swi - Phonak Hearing Systems - at 15"
6. GENTILI, Massimiliano - Ita - Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo - at 15"
7. RUMSAS, Raimondas - Lit - Lampre-Daikin - at 15"
8. ETXEBARRIA, David - Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi - at 15"
9. WIELINGA, Remmert - Hol - De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa - at 15"
10. SERRANO, Marcos - Spa - ONCE-Eroski - at 15"
11. MAYO. Iban - Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi - at 15"
12. FERNANDEZ, Bingen - Spa - Cofidis - at 15"
13. VALDES, Ricardo - Spa - Jazztel-Costa de Almeria - at 15"
14. AZEVEDO, José - Por - ONCE-Eroski - at 15"
15. VAZQUEZ, David - Spa - Fuenlabrada - at 15"
16. BLANCO, Santiago - Spa - iBanesto.com - at 15"
17. FRITSCH, Nicolas - Fra - FDJ - at 15"
18. ATIENZA, Daniel - Spa - Cofidis - at 15"
19. LOBATO, Rubén - Spa - Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo - at 15"
20. PIEPOLI, Leonardo - Ita - iBanesto.com - at 15"
30. OLANO, Abraham - Spa - ONCE-Eroski - at 1'29"
38. GARATE, Juan Manuel - Spa - Lampre-Daikin - at 1'29"
44. WEGELIUS, Charles - Gbr - MAP - at 1'29"
50. BELOKI, Joseba - Spa - ONCE-Eroski - at 2'02"
60. MANCEBO, Francisco - Spa - iBanesto.com - at 7'25"
101. FREIRE, Oscar - Spa - Mapei-Quick Step - at 12'56"
104. WILSON, Matthew - Aus - FDJ - at 12'56"
Overall Ranking after Stage 2 - (Top 20 Places & Selected Riders):
1. ZARRABEITIA, Mikel - Spa - ONCE-Eroski 8h37'57"
2. POSPYEYEV, Kyrylo - Ukr - Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo - at 4"
3. GOMEZ GOZALO, José Javier - Spa - Kelme-Costa Blanca - at 9"
4. ELMINGER, Martin - Swi - Phonak Hearing Systems - at 15"
5. GENTILI, Massimiliano - Ita - Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo - at 15"
6. ETXEBARRIA, David - Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi - at 15"
7. WIELINGA, Remmert - Hol - De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa - at 15"
8. AZEVEDO, José - Por - ONCE-Eroski - at 15"
9. RUMSAS, Raimondas - Lit - Lampre-Daikin - at 15"
10. FERNANDEZ, Bingen - Spa - Cofidis - at 15"
11. SERRANO, Marcos - Spa - ONCE-Eroski - at 15"
12. BLANCO, Santiago - Spa - iBanesto.com - at 15"
13. MAYO, Iban - Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi - at 15"
14. LOBATO, Rubén - Spa - Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo - at 15"
15. VALDES, Ricardo - Spa - Jazztel-Costa de Almeria - at 15"
16. VAZQUEZ, David - Spa - Fuenlabrada - at 15"
17. FRITSCH, Nicolas - Fra - FDJ - at 15"
18. PIEPOLI, Leonardo - Ita - iBanesto.com - at 15"
19. ATIENZA, Daniel - Spa - Cofidis - at 15"
20. FOFONOV, Dmitri - Kaz - Cofidis - at 23"
42. WEGELIUS, Charles - Gbr - Mapei-Quick Step - at 1'29"
44. BELOKI, Joseba - Spa - ONCE-Eroski - at 2'02"
64. MARTINEZ, Miguel - Fra - Mapei-Quick Step - at 8'45"
65. OUTSCHAKOV, Serguei - Ukr - CCC-Polsat - at 9'54"
115. WILSON, Matthew - Aus - FDJ - at 24'12"
Tomorrow's stage will take riders from Zenauri (in the Vizcaya-Bizkaia province of the Basque Country) to Agurain (in the Alava-Araba province) over 185 km., encompassing two Second Category climbs: Alto de La Barrerilla (at the km. 51 mark) and Alto de Opakua (at the km. 151 mark).