John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) has won the second stage of the Vuelta a Espana.
The German won a bunch sprint by the narrowest of margins from Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEDGE) at the end of the 181.4km stage from Pamplona to Viana.
Britain’s Ben Swift (Team Sky) was third, after looking like a candidate for victory, but led out too early and faded at the finish.
After the exertion and excitement of the opening stage team time trial, stage two was a more relaxed affair for the peloton, despite a rolling parcourse with sprint and mountain points on offer, and a category three climb.
Three who rejected the opportunity to ease into a further 20 stages and nearly 3,300km of racing included Javier Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural), Javier Chacon (Andalucia), and Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha).
The trio went away early in the blistering heat, but were unable to stretch their advantage to more than five minutes and were caught 12km from the finish. Chacon’s efforts gained greater reward than those of Aramendia and Ignatiev, placing the Spaniard in the king of the mountains jersey. Ignatiev won both intermediate sprints but Degenkolb earned the greater reward for winning the stage and will start today’s stage in the jersey of points leader.
Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) was the most significant combatant for the minor sprint placings and their associated time bonuses. The Spaniard ended the day in equal time with Chris Froome (Team Sky), 12 seconds behind race leader, Jonathan Castroviejo, after pulling back the two seconds lost to the Briton in yesterday’s team time trial. His effort suggests that Contador foresees a close battle for overall victory. Last year’s race was decided by just 13 seconds.
Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) winner of the Amstel Gold Race, failed to start the stage after crashing heavily in yesterday’s team time trial. The Italian fractured his collarbone in three places.
Vuelta a Espana stage two – result
1) John Degenkolb (GER) – Argos-Shimano – 4.38.40
2) Allan Davis (AUS) – Orica-GreenEdge
3) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
4) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale
5) Klaas Lodewyck (BEL) – BMC Racing
6) Vicente Reynes (SPA) – Lotto-Belisol
7) Davide Cimolai (ITA) Lampre-ISD
8) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
9) Manuel Cardoso (POR) – Caja Rural
10) Daniele Bennati (ITA) Radioshack-Nissan-Trek
1) Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (SPA) – Movistar – 4.57.31
2) Nairo Rojas (COL) – Movistar +1”
3) Javier Moreno (SPA) – Movistar
4) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar
5) Benat Intxausti (SPA) – Movistar
6) Juan Jose Cobo (SPA) – Movistar Team +4”
7) Dennis Van Winden (NED) – Rabobank +10”
8) Niki Terpstra (NED) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
9) Kevin De Weert (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
10) Alessandro Ballan (ITA) – BMC Racing