Winds blow up anxiety but just small splits feature on stage two of La Vuelta

Sun 20 Aug 2017

Much of the peloton, in particular the general classification contenders, will breathe a sigh of relief after a much-anticipated stage two failed to produce the drama expected at La Vuelta today.

The first official road stage of this year’s Spanish Grand Tour travelled along the coast, with a promise of strong winds having many predicting decisive echelons within the bunch.

In the end, the forecast resulted in high anxiety but no influential action for much of the day, with small splits only occurring in the final sprint to the line won by Yves Lampaert (Quickstep Floors). 

Colombian Esteban Chaves was the best placed ORICA-SCOTT rider in 11th place at five seconds.

Of the general classification contenders, just Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) made the front split and Chaves in the second small group. Adam Yates made the third split at eight seconds alongside the likes of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team), with Simon Yates in a bigger split at 13seconds with Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo).

“Today was a really crazy stage,” Chaves said. “No breakaway, all day full stress, really fast average speed and a crazy final.” 

“But I am lucky, I have big guys like Svein Tuft, Chris Juul-Jensen and Sam Bewley to protect me from the wind and I had good sensations.” 

Bewley, one of the main riders charged with the protection of ORICA-SCOTT’s leaders, said the stage was more stressful and complicated than it looked, despite the compact bunch.

“It was a really stressful day with a lot of anticipation, but in the end the stage went how we expected,” he explained.

“We were always near the front, we made any of the small splits that came throughout the day and we’re ready for another hard day in the mountains tomorrow.”

After the intense build up, sport director Neil Stephens was pleased to have the stage behind him.

"All of the team, not just the GC teams, were nervous about the wind, the narrow roads and the road furniture," Stephens explained. "It was a nervous day all up and a good one to have behind us."

"There a couple of gaps in the finish but, if anything, we gained a little bit of time so it was a positive day all around."

How it happened:

High anxiety riddled the peloton as they set off for stage two, the first traditional road stage of the 2017 La Vuelta, from Nimes to Gruissan.

It resulted in a fast start, with 46.3km covered in the first hour, and a compacted bunch for the first 130km. Even when Trek-Segafredo showed their intentions with an effort to split the bunch with 75km to go, the peloton were ready and it was immediately nullified.

As the peloton continued together, it seemed inevitable that the race would finish without the expected echelon drama, and despite an effort from Katusha-Alpecin with 30km to go it was to be the case.

Team Sky and Astana Pro Team pushed the pace in the final ten kilometres, before Quickstep Floors took over the front for the sprint won the stage courtesy of Lampaert. Behind, the peloton fractured slighted, with some minor time splits amongst the general classification contenders.

La Vuelta – Stage 2 results:

1. Yves Lampaert (Quickstep Floors) 4:36:13
2. Matteo Trenti (Quickstep Floors) ST
3. Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) ST
11. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:11

La Vuelta – General Classification at two stages:

1. Yves Lampaert (Quickstep Floors) 4:52:07
2. Matteo Trenti (Quickstep Floors) +0:01
3. Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team) +0:03
17. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:26

Photo courtesy of TDWsport.