Skip to main content

Live coverage

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2018: Stage 2

100km remaining from 153km

As we pick up the action after a little over 50 kilometres of racing, a group of five riders has a lead of 6:50 over the main peloton. Bryan Nauleau (Direct Energie), Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi-Murias), Mathias Van Gompel (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Jesus Alberto Rubio (Inteja Dominican Cycling Team) and Jon Ander Insausti (Team Euskadi) forged clear inside the first 10 kilometres, quickly establishing a working alliance and a sizable lead over the bunch.

There are no fewer than five categorised climbs on the agenda this afternoon, and our five escapees have safely negotiated the first ascent - and descent - of the category 3 Pico del Aguila. Bravo led the quintet over the summit after 30 kilometres, and their advantage eased out beyond 7 minutes on the long descent. There has been a slight injection of pace in the peloton since, however, and that gap is starting to come down in increments.

 

95km remaining from 153km

Our five leaders are currently on the day's second climb, the category 3 La Nevera, and their lead has dropped a little further, to 5:50.

 

The general classification is as follows after yesterday's opening leg to Peniscola, which was won by Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo):

 

1 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 4:34:03
2 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:04
3 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:06
4 Daniel McLay (GBr) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 0:00:10
5 Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
8 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
10 Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie

 

Van Poppel produced a fine sprint to beat Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott), Jurgen Roelandts (BMC) and Dan McLay (Education First-Drapac) to the honours. It was the Dutchman's first race for his new team since leaving Team Sky during the off-season. "It's my first race and first win, so it's very nice," Van Poppel said afterwards. "The team did a great job, pulled all day and did a perfect lead-out. I was nervous because it's a new race and a new team, but I'm super happy I took the win here." You can read Patrick Fletcher's detailed report here.

 

93km remaining from 153km

Garikoitz Bravo is eyeing a trip to the podium this evening. The Basque leads the way over the top of La Nevera, ahead of Van Gompel and Nauleau. The escapees have a lead of 5:43 over the peloton.

 

There's little respite to be had for the leading quintet here. As soon as the hit the base of the descent off La Nevera, they begin climbing again on the 2-kilometre haul up the category 3 ascent of Alcudia de Veo.

 

86km remaining from 153km

No surprises as Bravo leads Nauleau and Van Gompel over the summit of Alcudia de Veo. The five leaders' buffer has been reduced a little further, however, and now stands at 5:11.

 

The descent off this climb includes a lengthy stint through a (mercifully well-lit) tunnel before the road begins to climb once again at Elsida, near the mid-point of the stage, with the category 1 Puerto de Elsida. Five kilometres in length, it's a stiffer proposition than what has come before now.

 

80km remaining from 153km

There has been a distinct rise in intensity in the peloton ahead of the Puerto de Elsida. They reach Elsida with a deficit of 4:34 on the five escapees, who have already begun the climb.

 

A reminder of the five riders in this break: Jesus Alberto Rubio (Inteja Domincan Cycling Team), Bryan Nauleau (Direct Energie), Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias), Mathias Van Gompel (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Jon Ander Insausti (Team Euskadi).

 

There is a flurry of attacking in the main peloton on the Puerto de Eslida, as Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) and Andriy Grivko (Astana) accelerate. They are joined on the offensive by Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Domen Novak (Bahrain-Merida) and Antonio Molina (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).

 

De Marchi, Plaza et al have a small advantage over the peloton, but they won't be allowed to get far once the race reaches the top of the climb.

 

75km remaining from 153km

Van Gompel leads Bravo and Rubio over the summit of the Puerto de Eslida. They have a lead of 2:48 over a main peloton which is now being driven by Team Sky.

 

66km remaining from 153km

The De Marchi group has been reeled in by the peloton over the top of the climb. Team Sky continue to lead on the long descent off the Puerto de Eslida, and the break's lead has dropped to 2:30.

 

There is just one climb left on the agenda this afternoon, the category 1 ascent of Garbi. 5.8km in length, it provides a springboard for attackers, but the summit is still some 30 kilometres from the finish line in Albuixech.

 

59km remaining from 153km

The peloton trundles through Soneja some 2:34 down on our five leaders: Nauleau, Bravo, Rubio, Insausti and Van Gompel. Insausti, incidentally, is the race leader on the road, though the quintet all finished in the same time yesterday - and will be hard-pressed to stave off the chasers here.

 

The LottoNL-Jumbo team of race leader Danny van Poppel have joined Sky in setting the tempo at the head of the peloton. The Dutch squad will be hopeful that Van Poppel can survive the winnowing process on the final climb, but they also have a contender for the general classification in the shape of Primoz Roglic.

 

48km remaining from 153km

The escapees reach Torres Torres still with a lead of 2:30 over the peloton. Team Sky continue to wind up the pace ahead of the major sorting-out process that is likely to take place on the Garbi.

 

The five leaders continue to collaborate well as they approach the lower slopes of the Garbi, but their lead has been sliced to just 1:30 by Team Sky and is continuing to drop.

 

37km remaining from 153km

The break and peloton are on the relatively gentle lower slopes of the Garbi before the climb kicks up in earnest. Vasil Kiryienka is setting a very brisk tempo for Team Sky, and the gap to the break has dropped to just above a minute.

 

The Garbi featured on stage 6 of last year's Vuelta a Espana, where Alberto Contador was aggressive but early escapee Tomasz Marczynski took the stage honours. Chris Froome held the red jersey, but it yet to be seen, of course, whether that will remain in the record books.

 

35km remaining from 153km

The break begins to fragment as the gradient stiffens. Bravo is swallowed up by the Sky-led bunch and the other four escapees are only a little further up the road.

 

The break's adventure comes to an end. Insausti is the last survivor, but he is pegged back by the white jerseys of Team Sky, as Michal Kwiatkowski takes up the reins.

 

I hesitate to describe the situation as gruppo compatto: Sky's brutal pace-making is proving too much for the riders being jettisoned off the back of the peloton.

 

Kwiatkowski sets the pace with four Sky teammates lined up on his wheel. Movistar and AG2R La Mondiale have delegations a little further behind.

 

Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) accelerates on the steepest segment of the climb. He manages to overtake Kwiatkowski, but he is unable to open a gap over the Sky train.

 

Danny van Poppel will not hold the yellow jersey this evening. The Dutchman almost grinds to a halt as he weaves across the road off the back of the peloton. He is far from the only rider struggling with the gradient and the intensity of Sky's forcing.

 

34km remaining from 153km

Diego Rosa takes over for Team Sky and lifts the pace a notch or two as he climbs from the saddle.

 

Sky's pressing has seen a group of around 20 or so riders detach itself from the front of the peloton, but they are others poised to go on the offensive.

 

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) attacks and opens a small gap over the bunch. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) decides he can wait no longer and he produces a ferocious acceleration to rip across to the Dane.

 

33km remaining from 153km

It briefly looked as though Valverde would simpy scorch past Fuglsang, but the Astana man is able to hold his wheel. This duo is beginning to collaborate as the gradient eases slightly, and they have a small advantage over the Sky-led chasing group.

 

32km remaining from 153km

Valverde and Fuglsang are exchanging turns smoothly, with the Spaniard appearing to be slightly more sprightly at this point in the campaign. Valverde returned to action last week in Mallorca for the first time since he crashed out of the Tour de France on the opening day in Dusseldorf. Like his return from his doping ban in 2012, it seems that Valverde hasn't missed a beat in his absence.

 

31km remaining from 153km

Alejandro Valverde leads Fuglsang over the top of the Garbi and they begin the descent with a small advantage over the chasing group, which, at last glance, appeared to be between 20 and 25 riders strong.

 

27km remaining from 153km

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) has managed to scramble across the gap to Valverde and Fuglsang at the top of the descent. This leading trio of strongmen has a gap of around 12 seconds on the chasers.

 

25km remaining from 153km

Valverde and the Astana pairing are fully committed to this offensive, and have stretched their advantage slightly to 15 seconds over the 25-strong chasing group.

 

21km remaining from 153km

Valverde, Sanchez and Fuglsang continue to augment their advantage, which has now moved out to 18 seconds on this sweeping descent off the Garbi. Team Sky set the pace in the chasing group, while Valverde's Movistar teammates maintain a watching brief.

 

17km remaining from 153km

The gap continues to grow, as Valverde, Fuglsang and Sanchez stretch their lead to 27 seconds. The stage victory is very much in play here, especially as Team Sky seem to be shouldering all of the responsibility for the chase. 

 

Wout Poels, Diego Rosa, David De La Cruz, Gianni Moscon are on hand for Sky in the chasing group, together with, among others, Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale).

 

15km remaining from 153km

Race leader Danny van Poppel is part of a group attempting desperately to latch back up to the first bunch of chasers, but they surely won't be able to recoup their losses at this late juncture and at this speed.

 

13km remaining from 153km

Valverde, Fuglsang and Sanchez have a lead of 30 seconds as the road flattens out and they enter a crosswind section. This is the point of the course where the chasers will expect to start to peg back some of their deficit.

 

11km remaining from 153km

The chasing group is finally starting to find some common cause, as BMC begin to help Team Sky in the pace-making. They will be hoping to peg things back for Greg Van Avermaet to try his luck in a reduced group sprint.

 

10km remaining from 153km

LottoNL-Jumbo have joined the coalition chasing behind Valverde, Fuglsang and Sanchez, a sign that the Van Poppel group is not going to claw its way back on.

 

9km remaining from 153km

Despite the injection of pace in the chasing group, Valverde, Fuglsang and Sanchez have extended their lead to 31 seconds.

 

7km remaining from 153km

Valverde, Fuglsang and Sanchez are still collaborating seamlessly, though one wonders precisely when the Astana pair will start to think of trying to work over the veteran on the run-in.

 

6km remaining from 153km

There may be more teams contributing to the pursuit of the leading trio, but the chasing group is not the most cohesive, and the gap remains 31 seconds.

 

5km remaining from 153km

David De La Cruz and Brent Bookwalter exchange turns on the front of the chasing group as they bid to shut down Valverde et al.

 

The whiteboard moto comes past the leading trio and informs them that they still have an advantage of 28 seconds over an increasingly desperate chasing group. Even Van Avermaet and Poels have been moved to contribute to the pace-setting.

 

4km remaining from 153km

Valverde is showing no inclination to sit in on the Astana duo just yet, as he puts in a mammoth turn on the front.

 

3km remaining from 153km

Rosa, De La Cruz and Moscon swap turns on the front of the chasing group for Team Sky, but they'll be hard pushed to close the gap at this rate.

 

2km remaining from 153km

Into the final two kilometres for Valverde, Sanchez and Fuglsang. They look to have a winning gap over the Sky-led chasing group.

 

1km remaining from 153km

The neutral service car drives past the leading trio as they enter the final kilometre, but they seem destined to fight it out for the stage win.

 

Fuglsang takes up the reins in the final kilometre, with Valverde on his wheel. Sanchez will contest the sprint for Astana...

 

Fuglsang leads out the sprint but Valverde is poised...

 

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) wins stage 2 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

 

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) takes second ahead of his teammate Jakob Fuglsang.

 

Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) lead the chase group home, around 20 seconds down on Valverde, who moves into the overall lead.

 

Result:

 

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 3:53:55
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
4 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:19
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Merhawi Kudus (Rwa) Dimension Data
7 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team
8 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
10 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott

 

 

It's the first win of 2018 for Alejandro Valverde, and an indication of his recovery from the severe injuries he sustained in that crash on the opening day of last year's Tour de France.

 

General classification:

 

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 8:27:58
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:04
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:00:06
4 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 00:00:29
5 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky
6 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team
7 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
8 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
9 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
10 Amaro Manuel Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
 

 

Alejandro Valverde speaks to Eurosport as he wait to mount the podium: “I’m really happy. It’s my first win after the injury. I have to thank my team and Astana as well, of course, because we all worked together. Luis Leon Sanchez is a great friend of mine, it was hard to beat him, but it’s great to win.

“In training, I felt really good but you never know until you get back to racing. In Mallorca last week, I was quite surprised by how well I felt, but I was careful too because the roads were wet in a lot of places. I felt good coming in here, so I was hoping to do something but you never know."

 

Valverde has four seconds in hand on Astana and 29 seconds on everybody else ahead of tomorrow's team time trial. He might not defend his yellow jersey in the 23km test, but he has enough of a buffer to put himself in a strong position to claim final overall at the weekend. Or, as Valverde put it: “It’s always better to have some time. We know there’ll be some better teams than us in the team time trial tomorrow, but with the 19 second gap we got today, I think we’ll be fighting for the overall win on Saturday.”

 

 

Away from the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) has beaten Bryan Coquard to win stage 2 of Etoile de Besseges. You can catch up on the details here.

 

Result:

 

 

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 3:53:55
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
4 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:19
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Merhawi Kudus (Rwa) Dimension Data
7 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team
8 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
10 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott

 

General classification:

 

 

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 8:27:58
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:04
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:00:06
4 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 00:00:29
5 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky
6 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team
7 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
8 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
9 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
10 Amaro Manuel Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi Polkowice

 

Thanks for joining our live coverage of stage 2 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on Cyclingnews. We'll be back with more from tomorrow's team time trial, but in the meantime you can read Stephen Farrand's full account of today's racing here, as well as see the day's results and a gallery of the action.

 

 

 

 

Latest on Cyclingnews