Volta a Catalunya 2014: Luka Mezgec sprints to victory again on stage two

Slovenian extends overall lead with second consecutive win

Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) extended his overall lead as he sprinted to a second consecutive stage win at the Volta a Catalunya.

Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEDGE) looked perfectly placed to go one better than his second place on stage one, but the Slovenian found space to storm to another stage win.

Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) also put in a strong sprint, but the Slovenian ensured he would enjoy another day in the leader’s jersey with a dominant victory.

Team Sky’s Ritchie Porte, key lieutenant to Chris Froome, and drafted in as a last-minute replacement for Bradley Wiggins,  quit the race through illness.

Thomas Voeckler (Team Europcar) was among the riders in the day’s break, his presence enough to ensure the bunch gave them little leeway.

He was joined by Tomasz Marczynski and Marek Rutkiewicz (CCC Polsat Polkowice), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Michel Koch (Cannondale) and Jerome Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

Giant-Shimano led the bunch, supporting Mezgec, with Tinkoff-Saxo also lending a hand to ensure the gap didn’t exceed three minutes.

Amid heavy rain, the six escapees battled on however to maintain their steady lead as Sky came to the front of the bunch.

The British team were without Richie Porte however, with the Australian having succumbed to illness and he was not the only rider to climb off the saddle during the stage.

As the gap to the six leaders continued to fall, the inevitable happened with 28km remaining as Voeckler attacked off the front with none of his former companions opting to join him.

Out of the saddle, and gurning as ever, the Frenchman led solo into Banyoles to stretch the gap back to the bunch to more than a minute again.

His cause was helped by a crash in the bunch, with the wet road surface playing its part as several riders hit the deck.

Marczynski sat up from the original escapees, but the crash helped the remaining four stretch their own lead a little too as the bunch momentarily became very stretched out as Belkov injected some pace.

Voeckler’s solo lead continued to grow at the front, but Giant-Shimano were alert to the danger at the front and upped the pace in the bunch.

The four escapees were swallowed up with ten kilometres remaining as Voeckler held one minute to the bunch behind him.

Orica-GreenEDGE, Team Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo led the peloton, the Australian team harbouring stage ambitions while the remaining two were simply keen to keep their leaders out of trouble.

Trek Factory Racing also pulled a big shift on the front, with Jens Voigt taking charge as the gap fell to 27 seconds inside the final six kilometres.

Voeckler realised the game was up as he passed under the five kilometres to go mark however, shaking his head and sitting up as the sprint teams gathered.

With a series of roundabouts causing the bunch to become very strung out however, splits began to form.

Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing) upped the pace on the first sprint, with Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Giant-Shimano responding by keeping the pace high.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) came to the front under the one kilometre to go flag but Orica-GreenEDGE motored at the front.

Brett Lancaster led team-mate Howard out, with Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) also in the mix up against the barriers.

The Frenchman ran out of space however as Ferrari found space down the middle.

Mezgec appeared from almost nowhere on the right-hand-side however to take a comprehensive second stage win however and extend his overall lead thanks to another ten-second time bonus.

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Volta a Catalunya 2014 – stage two result

1) Luka Mezgec (SVN) – Giant-Shimano – 3.57.49hrs
2) Roberto Ferrari (ITA) – Lampre-Merida – ST
3) Daniele Ratto (ITA) – Cannondale
4) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep
5) Marcus Burghardt (GER) – BMC Racing
6) Davide Vigano (ITA) – Caja Rural
7) Boris Vallee (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
8) Tosh van der Sande (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
9) Leigh Howard (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
10) Maciej Paterski (POL) – CCC Polsat Polkowice +3”

General classification

1) Luka Mezgec (SVN) – Giant-Shimano – 8.06.42hrs
2) Roberto Ferrari (ITA) – Lampre-Merida +14”
3) Leigh Howard (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – ST
4) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +16”
5) Damiele Ratto (ITA) – Cannondale – ST
6) Boris Vallee (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol +18”
7) Marcus Burghardt (GER) – BMC Racing +20”
8) Tosh van der Sande (BEL) – ST
9) Davide Vigano (ITA) – Caja Rural
10) Michel Koch (GER) – Cannondale

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