Oscar Freire had won the first stage of the Vuelta a Pais Vasco in a sprint finish. However, in a controversial sprint, second place Alejandro Valverde held up his arm in protest with about 20 meters remaining as Freire squeezed him to the barriers. Valverde appeared to have more speed than Freire into the finish, but it is questionable as to if he would have passed Oscar before the line caught up to them. Chrisitan Le Mevel had finished in third. Valverde and Caisse D’Epargne protested the finish and the race officials agreed, disqualifying Freire and moving Valverde onto the top podium step.
The pace was extremely high in the hilly 152km first stage and the peleton was fractured into three groups. The second group, containing race favorite and Olympic Champion Samuel Sanchez, finished 1:39 behind the leaders. The second group was a further 1 minute down at 2:40.
The breaks came early, but the decisive move was initiated by Chris Horner with about 20km remaining. This fractured the peleton but most of the race favorites including Rodriguez, Valverde, Schleck, Cunego and Gesink were able to hold the pace.
Tomorrows stage is another hilly stage covering 209km going from Zierbena to Viana
Television coverage is unlimited from the Basque channel EITB.
1. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D’Epargne) 3:57:57
2. Christian Le Mevel (Française des Jeux)
3. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions)
4. Alexandr Kolobnev (Team Katusha)
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
6. Rigoberto Uran (Caisse D’Epargne)
8 Haimar Zubeldia (Team RadioShack)
9 Daniel Martin (Garmin-Transitions)
10 Beñat Intxausti (Euskaltel-Euskadi)