The second day in Basque Country was another day for the breakaway. Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) soloed across the finish line in Bilbao off the back of an attack on the route’s final categorized climb and managed to hold his chasers by a mere three seconds to win the 12th stage of the Vuelta a España.
Sergio Higuita was the top finisher for EF Education First Pro Cycling, finishing a few seconds off the back of a highly reduced bunch.
The day’s escape took nearly half of the stage’s 171-kilometers to form. The route favored the breakaway and most teams hoped to have representatives in the move. When the 19-rider break finally formed, EF Education First Pro Cycling had missed out on it.
“It was full gas today,” Higuita explained. “The whole team pushed hard to get into the breakaway, but in the end, we couldn’t catch onto the move when it went after over two hours of racing.”
From there it was a race of two parts with the escape racing for the stage win and the general contenders looking for any possible time gains. The team devoted their energy to protecting Higuita over the rugged terrain that featured in the second half of the race.
The first summit finish in a Grand Tour is highly anticipated, and on stage…