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Vuelta a Espana 2019: Late attack sees Nairo Quintana win Stage 2

Joe Robinson
25 Aug 2019

Colombian puts down GC marker as Nico Roche takes overall lead after exciting final 25km

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) surprised a small breakaway group with a late attack to take victory on Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana which was tipped to be for the sprinters and ended up being for the General Classification men.

The Movistar rider shot ahead of a small group that included Primoz Roglic, Nico Roche, Rigoberto Uran, Fabio Aru and Mikel Nieve in the final 3km to prize out a small gap and solo to the win. Roche game second, while Roglic took third.

This select group came after fireworks occurred on the day's final climb of the Alto de Puig Llorenca.

An initial attack by Hugh Carthy of Education First saw the peloton explode across the road and draw out the race's top General Classification riders towards its summit which then split further on the descent

Eventually, the leading six took a gap of around 30 seconds over the red jersey of Miguel Angel Lopez to the finish as the Colombian also handed over the race lead to Roche of Team Sunweb.

Sombreros and donkeys

Stage 1 was a short 13.7km team time trial through the narrow streets of Torrevieja. It should have been trouble-free, with all the top teams finishing within a handful of seconds of each other.

In reality, a local fish restaurants eagerness to wash its floors meant that a damp road caused pre-race favourites Jumbo-Visma to come tumbling down on what should have been a benign corner.

This saw both Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk lose 40 seconds before the race had really even begun and chasing Miguel Angel Lopez, who wears the first red jersey thanks to Astana taking the stage win.

Stage 2 would be awfully familiar to Brits and cyclists alike. A 198km lumpy loop from the coastal all-inclusive haven of Benidorm to Calpe, a town that plays host to almost every professional cyclist over the winter months.

With it being such a popular destination for those in the peloton, unknown roads were unlikely to be an issue. The big issue was going to be the tricky Alto de Puig Llorenca category 2 test 20km from the stage finish.

It was likely to be the problem that prevented the heavy sprinters from making the finish and also the catalyst for how the day began to pan out.

The first 150km was nothing but boring, in all honesty. A group of four riders escaped in a small breakaway and slowly worked a gap of around five minutes for most of the day which eventually was whittled down consistently towards the last quarter of the stage.

The bunch was in no hurry, almost is off on purpose to clash perfectly with a nailbiting fourth day in the third test of the Ashes.

It was not until the final 35km of the day where we saw things burst into life. Jumbo-Visma began to push the pace as Sander Armee from the break pushed on alone from the day's break.

The Lotto-Soudal rider rolled along with a gap of 30 seconds however you could see he was cooked. He was caught as the race hit the final climb, a climb that blew the race to pieces thanks to the initial work of Hugh Carthy.

Riders attacked and a small group surged ahead towards the summit. Alejandro Valverde led the race over its summit and began to press on towards the finish with a sprightly Pierre Latour of AG2R La Mondiale.

The gap started to grow and the race was on to the finish. Most of the GC guys had made the selection and it looked as is this break were going to reach the final.