Orica-Scott's Michael Albasini wins a tricky sprint finish in Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage 2.

With perfect positioning in the final 500 meters of racing, Michael Albasini won stage 2 at Vuelta al Pais Vasco in Eltziego, Spain Tuesday. Monday’s winner, Michael Matthews (Sunweb) was fourth behind the Orica-Scott Swiss, and kept his overall lead. Max Richeze (Quick-Step) was second by a wheel, and Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal) was third.

“It’s always good to win so early in the season so I’m really happy,” Albasini said. “We knew the finish was really fast, so we had bigger chainrings. I checked out the finish with satellite to know how it is.”

Stage 2, top 10

Top-10 overall

Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis) spent most of the day off the front. With less than 20km remaining, Maté, nicknamed the “Andalusian Lynx” was the last escapee. He was soon caught as the peloton readied for the sprint.

FDJ expressed interest in the finale with four riders on the front for the final two kilometers. LottoNL-Jumbo also got involved in the lead-out with one kilometer to go.

Before the final sweeping right-hand corner, with less than 500 meters to go, De Bie took a flyer, and Albasini knew he had to follow. “It still was surprising,” Albasini said about the tricky run to the line. “I knew five, six hundred meters to go that position wouldn’t change much. When there was an attack, I followed straight away. The last corner was tricky. I was hesitating a little bit, but I’m happy to pull that one off.”

Matthews looked to be well-positioned, fourth wheel, just behind his former Orica teammate Albasini. However, a few riders dove underneath the Aussie in that final corner, and he was pushed to a slow line on the outside, unable to challenge for the win.

Wednesday’s stage 3 may not favor such a large bunch sprint as the 160.5km route from Gasteiz to Donostia features five categorized climbs, notably the Mendizorrotz comes about 10km from the finish.

Stage 2 results

General classification