The 2021 Itzulia Basque Country Tour is a road cycling stage race that took place between 5 and 10 April 2021 in Spain. It was the 60th edition of the Itzulia Basque Country Tour and the 13th race of the 2021 UCI World Tour.
Formerly known as the Tour of the Basque Country and Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Itzulia continues to be decided on the steep, mountainous terrain of the Basque territory. Climbs such as the Alto de Arrate, Alto de Aia and the Alto de Asensio have historically been where the race has been decided but for 2021, the course was a bit more open until the final stage, which ended atop the category 1 ascent of the Arrate.
Itzulia Basque Country marked the return of duel between Slovenian champions Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma). The first round of one of the most keenly-anticipated showdowns this season kicked off on Monday with Roglic winning Stage 1, beating Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) by two seconds in the 13,9 km opening time trial in Bilbao. Pogacar crossed the line in fifth place, 28 seconds behind Roglic.
In stage 3 the Slovenian duo were expected to be the headline act on the 20 per cent slopes and didn’t disappoint as they swept past a late attack group a kilometre into the climb. Nobody behind was able to match them and Pogacar took the victory on the tough hilltop finish of Ermualde on stage 3 of Itzulia Basque Country. The result saw Roglic continue to hold the race lead, with Pogacar moving to second place overall at 20 seconds behind.
In Stage 4 Brandon McNulty finished third and did enough to move into the race lead, leading the race by 23 seconds over Roglic and 43 seconds over Pogacar. After Stage 5, McNulty retained the overall lead ahead of Saturday’s decisive Stage 6.
The decisive stage 6 offered seven classified ascents in just 111 kilometres. Former winners on Arrate in the 2021 peloton range from Alejandro Valverde (both in the Vuelta a España and the Itzulia) to Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in 2019 and Enric Mas (Movistar) in 2018. Its most recent winner, though, is Roglic, who won on Arrate in the opening stage of La Vuelta last October.
In Stage 6 Roglic got away from UAE Team Emirates mid-stage and produced a gutsy brave ride to take overall victory. Tadej Pogacar tried to pace McNulty on the steep Krabelin climb but then abandoned the American to set off in pursuit, with other riders sitting on his wheel all the way to the finish. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) went on the attack with Roglic, matched him on the final climb and then took the stage victory. Roglic won the Itzulia Basque Country Tour and finished 52 seconds ahead of his Jumbo Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard, who marked Pogacar all the way to the finish. Pogacar got some reward for his chasing, finishing third overall at 1:07 behind Roglic.