After only two stages at the Vuelta a España, the cards are already on the table. And for Team Katusha, their two trump cards, Daniel Moreno and Joaquim Rodriguez, remain at the top of the deck after both performed well on the Vuelta's first of eleven uphill finishes.
Katusha came into the race with Joaquim Rodriguez as their designated team leader, but it was teammate Daniel Moreno who claimed second on the stage.
Following Leopold Konig's (NetApp-Endura) attack in the final two kilometres, it was Moreno who responded and shot across the gap that the Czech rider had built. As Rodriguez and the other GC contenders marked each other the race continued to unfold up the road. Nicholas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) had the strongest attack in the final 500 metres to seal the win, with Moreno coming in two seconds adrift.
The Spaniard was disappointed not to take the stage, but given the uncertainty of his form following the Tour de France, the 59 kilogram climber remained upbeat.
"In the final part I was ahead so I tried to attack," said Moreno. "I had good, but not great, feelings about my shape. The first days of a Grand Tour after a rest period are always like this though. It's a pity I couldn't win, but the second place is a good result".
Rodriguez hesitated before attempting to follow the move of his teammate, claiming a lack of racing condition following a hefty break after the Tour de France.
"I saw Moreno attack but I couldn't follow him immediately," said Rodriguez. "I was in a good shape, but the lack of racing conditioned my performance. Anyways I think it's normal after the rest period at the end of Tour de France."