Haig 11th and Yates just behind on stage 2 of La Vuelta

Sun 26 Aug 2018

Australian Jack Haig has finished in 11th position on stage two of the Vuelta a Espana, just ahead of Mitchelton-SCOTT teammate and leader Simon Yates.

After a stand out Giró d’Italia earlier in the year, Haig has once again shown he is in stellar form at the Spanish Grand Tour finishing three seconds behind stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) with Yates a further five seconds behind and amongst fellow GC contenders.

The first La Vuelta break for 2018:
Seven riders formed the first breakaway of the 2018 La Vuelta in the opening kilometres of stage two and extended their advantage over the first climb of the day. 

Alexis Gougeard (AG2r-La Mondiale), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac), Pablo Torres (Burgos-BH), Jonathan Lastras (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) and Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) worked well together but BMC Racing Team, defending the red jersey, controlled the advantage at around three minutes for the first half of the day. 

Stage hunters start to emerge:
As the race entered the last 75km and the gap extended to four minutes, those interested in the stage started to emerge. 

Bora-Hansgrohe was the first to show their cards as they sent riders to the front to help BMC Racing Team and the gap quickly reduced to two-minutes 30seconds with 60km remaining. 

The gap really started to fade in the last 50km and the pressure was too much for race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) and his protected leader Richie Porte as they dropped off the back.

With the surviving breakaway down to two riders and the red jersey up for grabs, Team Sky put a big turn on in the final 20km to shed the front group further.

A punchy finale:
A late attack by Laurens De Plus (Quickstep Floors) in the final two kilometres put those with stage ambitions on the back foot and Team Sky continued in pursuit.

Valverde and Michal Kwiatowski (Team Sky) flew past De Plus in a drag race to the line with 300m to go. Kwiatowski took the final corner with 100m to go in front but Valverde came past to steal the stage. A second place was enough to move Kwiatowski into the red race leader’s jersey.

Jack Haig, 11th place:
“The Vuelta’s ‘flat’ stage was not so flat with quite a few hills and, also, the heat made it quite difficult out there.

‘It was really quite hot out there in the last two hours of the race and especially through the valley in the last 30km coming up to the finish where Team Sky made it hard. They obviously had a clear objective to get Kwiatowski into the leader’s jersey and it almost worked out perfectly with him for the stage win too but Valverde was too strong there in the end.

‘In the final, I was just trying to keep Simon in position. We had a bit of a discussion to make sure we both knew what was going on and he was happy for me to stay safe and be up there. I just tried to be in a really good position and make sure I could get through to the finish. Unfortunately, Simon was just a little bit behind and the finish was quite hard and there was a tiny split in the peloton, but in the end it was a good outcome for the team with both of us more or less being on the same time and we can go into the next couple of stages happy with our performance today.”

La Vuelta – Stage 2 Results:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 4:13:01
2. Michal Kwiatowski (Team Sky) ST
3. Laurens De Plus (Quickstep Team) +0:03
11. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:03 

La Vuelta – General Classification after stage 2:
1. Michael Kwiatowski (Team Sky) 4:22:40
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) +0:14
3. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) +0:25
12. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:37

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.