Martin delights at the finish. (©GettyImages)
Martin delights at the finish. (©GettyImages).

Tour of the Basque Country: Martin wins second stage; Contador leads overall

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Tony Martin took an impressive solo victory on the second stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, while Alberto Contador remains the overall leader.

The Omega Pharma – QuickStep rider was part of a breakaway group of seven early on but managed to bring it down to just three with a burst of pace with just 18.5km to go.

And his two remaining followers could not hold on when the German increased the tempo once more when 12km from the finishing line.

Even the collective power of the chasing sprint teams were unable to match the pace and power of Martin and the three-time world time trial champion hung on to win by 30 seconds.

Team Sky's Briton Ben Swift secured second on the stage when he beat Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – QuickStep) on the line in a very close sprint.

Former Tour de France winner Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) arrived with the peloton and remains 14 seconds ahead of Movistar's Spaniard Alejandro Valverde in the general classification.

The riders took off from Ordizia and the 155.8km stage appeared destined to be a day for the sprinters, despite the four categorised climbs en route to Dantxarinea.

A group of strong riders were allowed to escape, with the likes of Jan Bakelants (OPQS) and Movistar's Gorka Izagirre joining Martin, but the peloton was cautious and never allowed the breakaway's lead to grow to more than two and a half minutes.

They did not close the gap enough, however, and when the breakaway went into the final 25km, one and a half minute to the good, Martin seized his opportunity.

When the 28-year-old first made his move, the gap had reduced to under a minute but he soon stretched it to 1min 10sec with a burst of speed.

Martin's lead was only ever in danger when Valverde twice attacked Contador as Team Sky and Orica – GreenEdge, the main sprint teams, failed to bring the German back. Contador managed to shut both attacks down and the chase was eventually called off with Martin alone on front.

The previous day Contador took stage one in impressive fashion. The 31-year-old Tour de France contender parked compatriot Valverde on the final climb and arrived 14 seconds clear of his Movistar rival.

Stage two result

1 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, 3:46:17

2 Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky, +30secs

3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, same time

4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st

5 Paul Martens (Ger) belkin, st

6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st

7 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana, st

8 Yukiya Arashiro (Jap) Europcar, st

9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, st

10 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st

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