Pello Bilbao celebrated his first win of the season after sprinting to victory on his home roads on stage 3 of the Itzulia Basque Country (Llodio-Amurrio, 181.7km).
The third day at the 6-day Basque stage race was hilly, featuring a typical Itzulia course with narrow and steep short climbs. The GC team controlled the race, and after the day’s breakaway was brought back, the strongest riders made their move to take the lead. Among them was Pello Bilbao, who also tried to shake the stage, but he couldn’t manage to go solo, especially against the strong duo formed by the World Champion Alaphilippe and his teammate Remco Evenepoel. The reduced group were together to the finish to fight for the win. In a sprint finish, Pello Bilbao beat Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) and Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-hansgrohe).
With this success, Bilbao moves up to 5th place overall, 19” behind the leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
Pello Bilbao: “It was a tight one. It’s an incredible feeling. So great to win here in my home place. All the victories are special, but this one at home is something I had been waiting for a long time, especially after I was so close last year. This victory also has a particular value considering the riders behind me. When you take a win in front of the World Champion, better than this is impossible.
I want to dedicate it to my wife and the baby coming.I knew that Alaphilippe was the strongest at the sprint and the only solution to try to win was to fight for his wheel and try to beat him in the last meters. It was difficult to split the group earlier. I tried to attack in the last 6km to go, and some others tried on the final climb, but no one could jump away. The sprint was slightly uphill, so probably that gave me more chance to beat the World Champion on the line”.
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