By Andrew Hood
In Spain’s GP Miguel Indurain, Wegmann repeated his victory from two years ago by being first up the climbing finish at the 950-meter El Puy in Estella.
Wegmann profited from the work of his Gerolsteiner teammates to control the pace made easy work of Michael Albasini (Liguiqas), who crossed the line second some two seconds ahead of third-place Joaquin Rodríguez (Caisse d’Epargne).
The 199km course served as a warm-up for Monday’s start of the six-day Tour of the Basque Country with most of the top protagonists stretching their legs ahead of the hilly Basque Country tour.
A three-man break tore off the front to open a six-minute gap only to be reeled in the late going. Such riders as Vladimir Efimkin (Ag2r) and Chris Sorensen (CSC) tried in vain to surprise the bunch, but Gerolsteiner and Caisse d’Epargne controlled the action leading to the final punch.
Meanwhile in Holland, Martin and High Road teammate Adam Hansen rode away from the bunch in the Hel Van Het Mergelland one-day race.
The High Road pair snuck away 15km into the race and never came back. They came across the one 1-2 some six minutes ahead of a chase group of four and 1p minutes ahead of the chasing main pack.
“Adam and (I) attacked, found there was just the two of us out there and decided to keep
going. For a good 50 kilometers we had to really fight to convince the bunch to let us go,” Martin said. “Then afterwards the bunch cracked and the gap just grew and grew. We had no idea whether we would stay away or not, so we just hoped.”
The pair plowed through heavy rain and wet roads to come to the line, and the pair had the enviable position to discuss who would take the win.
“We decided together that I would win. It was dangerous because there were cobbled sections to try and sprint in any case, plus Adam is a good friend and we are team-mates, too,” Martin said. “Adam said I should win after he punctured and I waited for him. It’s a very special, memorable victory — and my first for High Road, too.”