One week after the Volta a Catalunya, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux stays on the Iberian peninsula for the 61st edition of Itzulia Basque Country (2.UWT, 4-9/04). The event starts with a prologue and ends on Saturday ater the sixth stage.
The first leader’s jersey of the stage race will be worn by the fastest rider of the individual time trial of 7,5 kilometer around Hondarribia along the Cantabrian Sea. The next day, the peloton goes inlands for the only stage longer than 200 kilometer, in which the top of Aguilar Gaina (12.7 km at 3.1%) is situated 30 kilometer before the finish.
The third and fourth stage present a similar profile with a very hilly second race half in which several short and steep hills have to be covered. On Wednesday, a double passage on Opellora (1.1km at 13.1%) and Ozeka (3.6km at 7.3%) are included before the final 20 kilometer and Urruztimendi (1.9km at 10.5%) and Vivero (6km at 6.2%) have to be climbed in the fourth stage.
The penultimate stage leads towards an uphill final in Mallabia, which the riders will cover a first time in another very hilly second race half. The event will be concluded with a queen stage around Eibar with the climbs Azurki (5.2 km at 7.3%), Gorla (9.6 km at 5.6%), Krabellin (4 km at 10.5%), Urkaregi (5 km at 4.8%) and Usartza (4.6 km at 8.5%), which leads to the traditional downhill final in Arrate.
With three top ten finishes in the Mallorca Challenge and also a twelfth place in the Tour of Murcia and the Clasica Jaén in his pocket, Kobe Goossens will represent the Belgian World Team after more than two weeks of preparation on altitude. Quinten Hermans finished ninth in La Route Adélie de Vitré last Friday and returns to the race in which he shone last season. The line up directed by Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon can also rely on Kévin Van Melsen and young riders Hugo Page, Théo Delacroix, Julius Johansen and Laurens Huys.