The Argentinean moved up in the general classification ahead of the race's first testing stage.
Maximiliano Richeze racked up Quick-Step Floors' 35th top-3 finish of the season at the end of a long and hard stage two of Vuelta al Pais Vasco, which had the riders face a strong headwind on top of two categorized climbs and a fast descent towards Eltziego. Many were expecting attacks, but the wind made any eventual surge impossible once the day's two-man breakaway was caught under the impetus of Quick-Step Floors and Team Sunweb.
Paris-Nice stage winner Julian Alaphilippe buried himself at the front and led a strung out peloton before the downhill, where several riders tried to surprise the bunch; despite not getting a gap, their move made the last kilometer complicated and tricky, as the lead-out trains became non-existent and all the sprinters were on their own going into the technical final 300 meters.
Quick-Step Floors' Max Richeze, a double stage winner at Vuelta a San Juan earlier this year, got involved in the sprint and came just a wheel behind the winner, Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott), thus getting his best result of the season in a World Tour race.
The runner-up spot he notched in Eltiziego also helped the Argentinean jump to second in the overall standings ahead of stage three, which will take the riders to San Sebastian, but only after they'll tackle the six categorized climbs spread across the 160.5 kilometers – Udanako, Mandubiako, Santa Agedako, Alkizako, Andazarrateko and Mendizorrotzko – the latter coming only ten kilometers away from the finish.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele