KIRCHEN TAKES BUNCH SPRINT WIN IN BASQUE COUNTRY
April 08, 2008
High Road’s Kim Kirchen fended off World Champion Paolo Bettini for victory in stage two of the Tour of the Basque Country. Kirchen stormed ahead in a tough uphill bunch sprint to take his biggest win since the overall of the Tour of Poland in 2006. Overall, Spaniard Alberto Contador still leads.
“We said this morning at the team meeting that this was a good stage for Kim, and that’s how it’s worked out.” said High Road’s sports director at the Tour of the Basque Country, Valerio Piva.
“We saw it was uphill at the end, and there aren’t any real pure sprinters here, so it was a great chance for him,” added Piva. “We got the whole team to work for him during the race, with Michael Barry being the one who led him up to the last kilometre. Kim started to accelerate with 300 metres left to race, maybe a bit too early, but he still won, which is what matters!”
Beating Bettini, Piva agreed, was “not something that happens every day.”
“Kim came here principally to gain extra racing condition for the Ardennes Classics, and this victory will motivate him a great deal for Amstel, Fleche and Liege.”
Now lying inside the top ten overall, Piva says that “the general classification isn’t something we would ever rule out, but to be honest that’s not Kim’s objective here. He came here to win a stage, to test his form, and he’s done that. And if he can beat Bettini in Spain, maybe he’ll do the same in Belgium as well!”