Vuelta a Andalucia leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) explained that his keeping close to the front and even launching a brief attack in the closing kilometres of the stage two of the Vuelta a Andalucía was simply a defensive strategy in order to ensure he did not get caught up in crashes.
With a fast descent off a third category climb, technical finish, poor route and lots of corners on the race route coming into the finish town of Lucena, not to mention the mass pile-ups of stage one’s first sectors, crashes were uppermost in many riders minds, including Contador.
The race leader was sucked back into the rising tide of sprinters and GC contenders teams fairly quickly, with Sky and Movistar quickest to react. Both Contador and his arch-rival Chris Froome (Sky) remain in the same positions overall, with Contador eight seconds up on Froome prior to tomorrow’s decisive, 16. 9 kilometre climb to Hazallanas.
After receiving prizes in front of a large, noisy crowd, with a lengthy transfer ahead of him Contador spoke briefly to reporters, and explained that “I had wanted to be at the front to avoid any kind of crashes or last-minute incident, nothing more than that.”
Run off at a respectable average speed of 39.397 kmh, Contador recognised that, “today’s been a very hard day because of the headwinds, but the team were up there working away right from the start.”
“We wanted to peg back the break and then be sure that the sprinters teams would be ready to take over, and that’s effectively what happened. Now the main objective is to recover prior to tomorrow’s big stage.”
Following a two-hour transfer, Contador and the rest of the peloton will tackle a 157.6 kilometre stage, with two difficult first category climbs, starting with the Puerto de la Cabra in the first hour of racing. The second big ascent of the day, the Alto de Hazallanas, has only previously been used in one race, in 2013, when it was tackled by the Vuelta a España.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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