Itzulia 2021: preview, favorites and stages

04/04/2021 at 09:30 CEST

Tadej pogacar he has won everything he has raced when he has become a cyclist of big or small laps. Primoz Roglic, He has almost succeeded, less when his young compatriot has crossed the path, or has been hit by misfortune, as happened in Paris-Nice, which he lost almost in the last pedal stroke when it seemed that he was going to achieve the first big win of 2021.


La Itzulia lives from this Monday, April 5 and until Saturday, the duel in Basque lands of the fashionable couple, of two athletes who have placed the map of Slovenia at the top of the class board to become the two best cyclists today in multi-day races. Pogacar took away Roglic the triumph of the Tour when it seemed that his countryman, 11 years older (31 by 22), was facing the final time trial with the climb to La Planche des Belles Filles as a procedure before the walk through the Champs Elysees. Roglic surpassed Pogacar in the 2019 Vuelta although the truth is that at that time the young cyclist from Joxean Fernandez Matxin, the director of the Emirates team where the Slovenian pearl races, debuted in a three-week race and had all the road to learn.

The Basque round, as happened to the Volta, is no longer a preparatory race where the pedal stars who sign up run it thinking only of training with a number on their back as they did their whole life in a cycling that began to change in the past decade. Now everyone goes with the knife in their mouth, either in the Catalan race, in Itzulia or in any appointment of several days. Some sign up thinking about the Giro and others about the Tour (the Vuelta is still a long way off in spring). But if they manage to stand out and even better, a victory is something that they take in case things go wrong. Pogacar and Roglic They are of those who do not forgive. And, deep down, this offensive way of running does nothing more than motivate the spectator who knows that he will hardly get bored in at least five of the six stages -the fifth is the only foreseeable sprint day- designed in the Return to the Basque Country.


Because, in addition, there are more guests to the cycling party apart from the Slovenian duo. With the number one appears Ion Izagirre, the last winner of the race before last year’s suspension due to the pandemic. As a Basque, winning his hometown race is an incentive and the Astana rider performs well in stage tests lasting just a few days. But it is that it repeats Alejandro Valverde, after the fourth place of the Volta, accompanied by Enric Mas. And with them Adam Yates, winner in Barcelona, ​​who leads the Ineos with a Richard Carapaz more shot after his experience in Catalonia. As if that were not enough, the British team has also registered Tao Geoghegan Hart, the winner of the Giro that this year has changed Italy for the Tour. In this way, the winners of the three great rounds of 2020 compete in Euskadi.

The main Basque star also attends Itzulia, Mikel Landa, with his partner Pello Bilbao. Landa (second in 2018 after Roglic) will try an old challenge that he has pursued for years to try to register his name as the winner of the test.


It will be six intense days, until Saturday, with two finishes on top (Ermualde, in the third stage, and Arrate, in the last, the place where Roglic prevailed in the first stage of the Vuelta). The festival begins in Bilbao with a 13.9-kilometer time trial that includes the final climb to the Etxebarria wall with ramps that reach 20%. Every day for Eurosport and Esport3 (ETB, in the Basque Country).