Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team) won stage 2 of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta with an impressive solo. Attacking on the penultimate climb with 30.5km to go when the early break was caught, the Women's WorldTour leader took control of the race.
Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx), Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), Liane Lippert (Team DSM), and Mavi García (UAE Team ADQ) could follow Van Vleuten at first but were all dropped within a few kilometres, leaving Van Vleuten alone at the front of the race.
Extending her lead on the last 25km, Van Vleuten won the stage in style, 2:16 minutes ahead of Longo Borghini in second, Lippert in third, and Vollering in fourth.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ SUEZ Futuroscope) led home the next group of nine riders at 2:50 minutes.
Van Vleuten is the new GC leader with Longo Borghini second overall at 1:55 minutes and Vollering third at 2:24 minutes.
How it unfolded
With five climbs on 105.9km, stage 2 was the queen stage of the five-day race.
After brief attacks by Olympic champion Anna Kiesenhofer (Soltec Team) and Maaike Coljé (Massi-Tactic), it was Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) and Sarah Roy (Canyon-SRAM) who formed the break of the day on the Fuente las Varas climb.
Coljé and Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT) briefly joined Brand and Roy but were dropped on the second climb of the day, the Cruz de Usaño.
The gap between Brand and Roy and the peloton was only 40 seconds for a long time but grew to 3:45 minutes on the Campo Layal climb before Movistar Team, in particular, started to chase in earnest.
Overnight leader Longo Borghini was involved in a crash but quickly returned to the peloton, and as the escapees started the second ascent of the Fuente las Varas (from a different side), their advantage had been reduced to 20 seconds.
When Brand and Roy were caught 500 metres later, Van Vleuten immediately went on the attack. Only four riders could follow her pace, but they were all dropped within the next 2.5 kilometres.
Van Vleuten crested the climb 49 seconds ahead of Vollering and 1:04 minutes ahead of Longo Borghini and Lippert, with García a bit further behind, followed by a group of 11 riders that included the other GC favourites.
On the descent and the final climb up the Campo la Cruz, Van Vleuten steadily increased her gap on the rest of the race while Vollering waited for Longo Borghini and Lippert after the descent and García was caught by the group behind her.
Descending from the Campo la Curz, Longo Borghini opened up a small gap on Lippert and Vollering but was caught again on the flat run-in to the finish.
Van Vleuten won the stage with a massive gap to take the lead in the GC as well as the points classification; the green jersey will be worn by Longo Borghini on stage 3. Brand will wear the polka-dot mountain jersey while Roy was awarded the stage 2 combativity prize and will wear the white jersey.
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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.
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