Itzulia Basque Country: Close but no cigar for Schmid
Mauro Schmid finished again on the podium at the prestigious one-week race, after a great display of teamwork and strength from his Soudal Quick-Step teammates that took our squad to the top of the team classification ahead of the last two days.
On a relentless stage four which comprised four climbs, including La Asturiana (7.4km, 6.7%), our team hit the front both before and after this demanding ascent, taking center stage at the front of the peloton. After pulling to bring Mauro in a good position at the start of the ascent, the Wolfpack regrouped on the incredibly technical descent to Santurtzi, signalling the start of a fierce chase behind the two riders in the lead.
Around half a minute separated them with ten kilometers to go, but Mattia Cattaneo and James Knox rode admirably, burying themselves for Mauro and reducing the deficit to just five seconds going under the flamme rouge. Another huge pull of the Italian brought the chasers within reach, but the duo barely made it and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) took the win, just ahead of the small group from where Mauro sprinted to third place.
“The guys worked hard for me today and I am grateful for that. On the climb I suffered a bit on the steep part, but I tried to ride at my own pace and towards the top I began feeling better. I was then lucky to have Mattia and James with me on the descent, they believed in our chances and gained time with each kilometer. I am disappointed that in the end it was so close, but we can be proud of how we raced. I am grateful to the boys, they were amazing”, said Mauro after the stage.
Photo credit: ©David Ramos / Getty Images