Entirely as expected, Ibai Salas took out today's opener of the Tres Días de Álava. The Caja Rural rider beat his team-mate and former Naturgas Energía stalwart Fernando Grijalba to the victory.
Today's 96km first leg from Amurrio to Llodio was the shortest, yet probably the hardest, stage of the three-day race, featuring three categorized climbs: the Alto de Mendieta and two ascensions of the Malkuartu. The peloton, racing under murky skies, went up the Malkuartu for the final time only five clicks from the line, and a trio, made up of the Caja Rural duo and Gomur's Jesus Herrero, held off a small hard-chasing group to the finish. The trio came home four seconds ahead of a strong ten-man group, including in-form Naturgas riders Larrinaga (fifth) and Chetout (seventh). The two are therefore very much in contention for high overall placings heading into Saturday's leg to Vitoria.
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- (1, Ibai Salas (Caja Rural), 2:24:30)
- 5, Jon Larrinaga, 0:04
- 7, Loic Chetout, s.t.
- 37, Karl Baudron, 1:19
- 50, Pablo Comins, 4:27
- 57, Alain González, 6:47
- 58, Mikel Iturria, s.t.
- 59, Alain Santamaría, 12:05
- 62, Francisco Javier Martín, 13:08
- 70, Imanol Estéves, s.t.
- 72, Damien García, s.t.
Some 60 riders abandoned today, among them eight riders from Hostal Latorre and six each from Lanaldi-Gopar, Reyno de Navarra-Conor, Ibaigane Opel, Kanpanzar Harrobia and Debabarrena (including Lehendakari-leader Aitor González).
Teams: Caja Rural (6, Naturgas Energía)
Metas Volantes: Loic Chetout
Best local rider: Jon Larrinaga
Young rider: Fran Medina (Andalucía)
Full results here.