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Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2018: Stage 2


100km remaining from 153km

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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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'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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.


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:

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.

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.


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.

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