Last year's Tour de France runner-up, Cadel Evans, has taken an early season victory after winning the second stage of the 54th Vuelta a Andalucía. His win in just his second day of competition this year, proves the 31 year-old Australian's training during the off-season was not hampered by the many commitments he had with various charities and other functions. It also indicates that his preparation is right on schedule as for his assault on the 2008 Tour de France where he is a noted favourite after Astana's non selection, which leaves last year's first and third placed riders, Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer out of the coming edition.
The 2007 ProTour Champion was part of an 18 strong break away that moved clear of the main field after just 30km into the 176-kilometre stage from Torrox Costa to the mountain top finish in La Zubia. Evans' Silence-Lotto team-mates Dario Cioni, Johan Van Summeren and Mario Aerts were also part of the break and were instrumental in setting him up for the final surge to the line where he overcame Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick Step) for the win after a tough stage in dangerous conditions as the usually sunny southern Spain is being lashed by winter storms.
Spaniard Astarloza Chaurreau, second on the stage was happy with his performance against an in form Evans. "The finish line was situated after two kilometres of climbing, I really felt very strong, but Evans was even stronger than me." he said.
"At 500 metres to go we [Evans] escaped and 100 metres before the finish line I still saw a chance to win. Evans was the one who already had worked a lot in the break away, so I believed that I would have a little advantage. But he showed that he is very strong and so he is the fair winner of this stage", he explained of their duel to the line.
"I am a bit disappointed, but I feel a bit consolation thinking that it was the number two of the Tour de France 2007 and the favourite for this year’s edition who defeated me."
Clément L'Hottelerie (Skil-Shimano), runner-up of stage one, managed to grab the leader's jersey when overnight leader José Antonio Lopez Gil (Andalucía - Cajasur) lost more than five minutes to the Frenchman.