Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 2 of the Ruta del Sol.
- Ruta del Sol 2017 hub page
- Ruta del Sol 2017 race preview
- Ruta del Sol 2017 start list
- Contador comes out swinging in Ruta del Sol debut
- Behind the scenes at Trek Segafredo - Podcast
Hello there and welcome to the second stage of this year's race. We've another day for the climbers, and a summit finish in store. Yesterday we saw Alejandro Valverde continue his fine start to the season with victory and the Spaniard will be looking to defend his leader's jersey.
There are four categorised climbs in total on today's menu and we've already seen one of them crested. We've a break of five up the road and they're busily putting time into the peloton. The CN blimp is up and running, Fleetwood Mac (Rumours, if you must know) is in the tape deck, so sit back and enjoy the coverage. We'll bring you the names of the riders in the break in just a moment.
139km remaining from 177km
And the famous five are: Grosschartner, Meurisse, Nibali, Preidler, and Wellens. It's Antonio Nibali, by the way, not Vincenzo but a decent looking break. It was Wellens who jumped first and the rest of the break joined him after around 8km of action. Movistar currently lead the peloton by seven minutes after 38km of action.
You can of course find our complete race start list, JUST HERE.
And here's the top-ten on GC coming into today's stage. No bonus seconds by the way, in case you were wondering:
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
2 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky
3 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
4 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky
5 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
7 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:05
8 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
10 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb
What did you all make of Contador's ride yesterday? Plenty of intent and plenty of attacks but he couldn't quite drop his rivals. Do you expect the Trek Segafredo leader will be more decisive today given that we don't have a descent or flat section before the finish? Let us know on Twitters.
@TeamWantyGobert Thu, 16th Feb 2017 12:44:42
Contador, meanwhile is riding around on this lush little number. Full interview with Alberto Contador's Trek Emonda can be found here.
At the front of the peloton Rory Sutherland leads Valverde, in red.The break are currently descending with the feedzone at around 80km, the next key marker. It's up and down all day though as Wellens, the best rider in the break, takes a long turn on the front.
Over in Oman, Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) has won stage 3. Ben Hermans finished in third and keeps his race lead, but only just. Rui Costa picked up two seconds on the line and is now only two seconds off the BMC rider's slender lead. That's a big result for the Dane though. He's just a second year pro and that's his first major victory at this level. He did win the white jersey at the Tour of Qatar, though, in 2016.
Looking at the final climb today, it has pitches of 10 per cent with an average gradient of 8/3 per cent. The final 500 meters or are a false flat. Trek will be looking to break up the peloton before we even get there though. Contador is in good form but can he drop Valverde? If he wants to put the Movistar leader under pressure then he has to do it on the lower slopes of the Alto Pena del Aguila.
In other news Luca Paolini is returning to racing. His ban after taking cocaine has come to an end and although he couldn't get another WorldTour contract, he's found a spot on an MTB squad. Full story, is RIGHT HERE.
@faustocoppi60 Thu, 16th Feb 2017 13:20:18
Preidler was in the break yesterday and this is the first race of the season for the 26-year-old. He's a solid domestique, who can climb and time trial. Back in 2011 when Chaves won the Tour de L'avenir, Preidler was seventh, ahead of riders like Bardet and Tim Wellens, the latter who is in the break today too.
@TrekSegafredo Thu, 16th Feb 2017 13:27:08
It's Movistar who continue to set the pace on the front of the peloton. They're used to this position with Valverde and Quintana in their squad but with the latter home for the nationals it's Valverde who calls the shots this week. He's looking to win this race for the fourth time, having won here in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
92km remaining from 177km
At the latest time check the break have 7'30 over the Movistar-led peloton. We've covered 85km of racing.
Wellens started the stage at 7:01 so he's the virtual leader on the road but there's still a long way to go. We've only just passed through the feedzone, Movistar still on the front and controlling affairs for Valverde.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 16th Feb 2017 13:40:00
Seems like a tactic of Wellens to go for stage wins here. He's in banging form having won twice already this season during the Challenge Mallorca. He's still only 25 but has already taken GC wins in Poland (2016), Eneco (2014 and 2015) and won the GP Montreal in 2015. He's won a stage in the Giro d'Italia (2016) and a number of other races. Really underrated talent and someone that has come through the ranks under Marc Sergeant and the Lotto U23 system.
Download the latest podcast from the CN team. This week we go behind the scenes at Trek Segafredo, talking to the management and the riders about the team's transition away from the Bruyneel days and the goals for the coming season... They want to be the top ranked team in the world and win the Tour de France with Alberto Contador.
You can listen to the podcast, RIGHT HERE.
No real urgency from the bunch as they continue to hold the break at over seven minutes. The chase will come, especially with more teams realising that they'll need to unsettle and isolate Valverde on the final climb if they're to challenge. It will be interesting to see how Sky play this as they have the team - on paper - to really trouble Movistar. Will Poels and Rosa work together and what role with Landa play?
The slight lull in action has allowed a number of riders to drop back to the team cars and drop off a few layers of clothing before the racing really starts. Contador, Valverde, and the Sky's leaders are near the front.
We talked about Wellens' palmares earlier but Moreno isn't too far off the Belgian's achievements. The 32-year-old has won two stages in the Vuelta, GC wins in Castilla Leon, Asturias, and Valencia.
Gap to the leaders, by the way, has moved out to 8 minutes so Wellens has the yellow jersey as things stand. Still around 80km to go and a lot of climbing to come. Movistar and Trek Segafredo have yet to put the hammer down but that will come.
Our man on the ground, Alasdair Fotheringham is at the race and he's been up the final climb. He confirms that there's not much wind around, that the road kicks up before a final 500m of flat. He adds that the climb, finish is perfect for the race leader Valverde.
Into the final 75km of action, the gap still at around eight minutes.
50km remaining from 177km
The break is splitting up and Wellens and Felix Großschartner have gone clear. The gap to the bunch is starting to come down with the time difference at 5'43. Team Sky and Trek are at the front of the bunch and setting the pace.
Wellens has dropped his final break companion and has gone clear, by himself with 48km to go. The gap is holding at 6'00 so this is the major effort we expected from the Lotto Soudal rider.
Knees is on the front and setting the pace for Team Sky and the rest of the peloton. Trek have posted a few men at the front as well as the chase hots up. Wellens affords himself a little look behind him before getting back to work.
It's interesting to see how strong Trek are here. Last year we saw him isolated far too quickly at Tinkoff and the expectations are that he has a stronger, more united unit around him this year.
Just a little further back we have Valverde, surrounded by a gaggle of Movistar men. Uran is a few wheels further back but up ahead Wellens is holding the gap at 6'03 with 45km to go.
Impressive riding from Wellens who is nudging the gap a little further out as he continues to climb. He has a unique climbing style, for sure, but he makes it work as he takes a bidon from the team car. 1.5km to go on this climb before a lengthy descent towards the penultimate climb.
@TrekSegafredo Thu, 16th Feb 2017 14:43:11
Over the top for Wellens as he begins the descent. He quickly gets up to speed and tucks his body neatly into an aero position.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 16th Feb 2017 14:47:04
40km remaining from 177km
Wellens is no longer in the virtual GC lead but that's not been the goal today - he's after the stage win. It would be his third victory of the season having already won twice this year during the Challenge Mallorca. 40km to go and the gap is at 6'15.
Contador has responded by putting his entire team on the front of the bunch and setting them to work. Sky have one man up there, while Valverde and his Movistar mob can drift back.
And Wellens has fallen!
He loses his front wheel on a roundabout and he's down.
He's back up and on his bike but that will surely affect him. His concentration has been broken although he's luckily escaped injury from what we can see.
And there's a crash in the bunch on the same corner that did for Wellens. Several riders are down.
It looks like the leaders have made it through, as another rider falls on the exact same spot. Looks like there's petrol on the road. One of the Cofidis riders is down and looks in serious trouble. The rest of the fallers are back on their bikes and chasing.
30km remaining from 177km
30km to go for Wellens who still has two climbs remaining. The gap he has is still holding at around six minutes. The Lotto rider takes on some food and gets out of the saddle as he hits another short rise in the road.
The Trek-led peloton have the gap down to 5'12 as we hit a long section of flat road. The bunch entirely strung out as we see a few splits appear.
Wellens is climbing once more and he's lost another 15 seconds. The gap at 4'54 with 27km to go.
The penultimate climb is short, just a third cat, but there are 10 per cent and 16 per cent stretches and that's where we will see the peloton ripped to pieces by Trek and Sky. Wellens is fighting the gradient already as he moves in and out of the saddle, his left side grubby from his earlier fall.
Another chunk of time lost for Wellens with his lead cut to 4'11 with 26km to go. Any chance of victory is starting to slip away.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 16th Feb 2017 15:08:01
Three CCC riders came down in that earlier fall, while the Cofidis rider was Navarro. He's apparently back on his bike but complained of dizziness.
@TeamCOFIDIS Thu, 16th Feb 2017 15:15:03
23km remaining from 177km
Wellens is in full TT mode now as he moves into the final 25km of racing. The gap continues to drop though, it's at 3'51.
The rest of the early break have been swallowed up as Wellens tucks himself over the bars as he looks for every possible advantage. He's up against the might of Sky, and Trek as the gap continues to tumble.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Thu, 16th Feb 2017 15:20:17
Contador still has the full quota of teammates on the front of the bunch as Wellens holds at 3'23. We've 19km to go.
The Lotto car pulls alongside Wellens and the driver barks at him, looking to motivate the 25-year-old. The wind, understandably, looks to have gone out of his sails as his shoulders start to hunch before another short descent.
Wellens still has a chance but he will need at least 1'30-1'50 before he starts the final climb. He's lost another 15 seconds as Cannondale move to the front and start to take over pace duties from Trek. They're looking to set up Uran for the stage win.
16km remaining from 177km
The wheels are starting to come off... the gap all of a sudden is down to 2'29 with 16km to go. Wellens has found something extra as he battles the gradient but will it be enough?
Lopez hits the front for Team Sky as lifts the pace. Poels, Landa and Rosa all there as Trek move off the front. Cannondale were there briefly but now they've sat back as they look to protect Uran.
1km to go for Wellens on this penultimate climb. It's going to be really close as we see the lead drop to 1'56 - 14.7km to go.
Wellens is on the ropes, the gap now at 1'03 as he crests the top of the climb. Poels looks comfortable as he sits at the back of the Team Sky train. The finish certainly suits him but he can't afford to reach the final 500m with Valverde for company.
Wellens has that short descent before he hits the final climb. He's still giving it everything, as you would expect, but the peloton are closing in on the lone leader.
10km remaining from 177km
Final 10km of the stage and Wellens has 47 seconds. It's almost all over for the Lotto Soudal rider.
The vastly reduced peloton is down to around 45 riders as we head to the final climb of the stage.
There's a short little dip before the road starts to climb towards the finish. 6.5km to go.
Just 11 seconds for Wellens as the road slowly starts to rise. Team Sky on the front in numbers as we head towards the summit finish. Wellens caught!
5km remaining from 177km
Landa takes over as the road rises to 6 percent. That does't last and Trek post a man on the front for Contador. The pace has eased slightly before Sky again push towards the front. 5.3km to go.
Landa again comes to the fore as they all start to look at each other. Valverde his punching his way - not literally - to the front.
Contador is a little further back as Barguil attacks with 4.8km to go. He has as small gap as Landa looks to close it.
Barguil looks back and he can see Landa won't let him go. Contador then moves closer to the front.
Barguil is caught by the bunch, realising he won't get a gap. Nieve set the pace with Poels on his wheel.
4km remaining from 177km
All the favourites are waiting but Sky attack and it looks like Landa who has gone clear. Out of the saddle and he already has a decent gap. Who will chase this?
It was a smart move with Sky making room on the right hand side of the road.
Landa five seconds off the lead and so Valverde will have to react if he wants to keep his leader's jersey.
Poels and Rosa just drift back and watch their main rivals. How long before Contador makes his move. 3.4km to go.
And Felline lifts the pace with Contador on his wheel. Landa has 10 seconds with 2.9km to go.
Valverde and Poels is there as Trek surge once more. Landa caught as Contador goes. And Valverde has cracked.
Poels is trying to catch Contador but with 2.5km to go Contador is clear of the rest of the field. He's fighting the climb, and Valverde has no response at this moment in time.
It looks like it's Landa who is still chasing in second with Poels, Valverde and Pinot a little further back. Contador has maybe 8 seconds on the chase. There's still 2.1km to go.
It's all or nothing for Contador though with 2km to go. The gap has gone out to maybe 10 seconds but it's touch and go. There's still a chance for a rider to come over. But Valverde has blown completely has he drops further back, he can't even hold Pinot.
And now Poels is struggling as Pinot attacks the Sky trio. Contador has a quick look back and he can see the damage he's created.
1.6km to go. Can Contador hold on because Pinot hasn't given up just yet. The Frenchman is closing as Contador pushes on the pedals once more.
Contador sees him, jumps on the pedals yet again, and the Frenchman will need to respond as we see two contrasting styles but here comes Pinot.
It looks like Poels has cracked now.
1km to go for Contador.
And Pinot continues to close the gap on Contador.
But Contador accelerates again. 600m to go. This is going to be close.
The gap is maybe four seconds as Contador accelerates once more but Pintot has caught him.
Contador forced to lead out as Pinot goes and he's going to take the win.
Pinot takes the stage. Incredible ride from the Frenchman has Contador comes over the line in second place.
There was a five second time bonus between the two heading into the stage but Pinot will be really close to also taking the leader's jersey.
@TrekSegafredo Thu, 16th Feb 2017 16:02:35
Pinot timed his run for the line so well. He worked with Team Sky to limit his losses when Contador first attacked. Then he moved clear of the chase with around 1.6km to go. Contador was never quite able to open up a big enough gap and Pinot seized on that. As soon as the catch was made the writing was on the wall.
It looks like Pinot took three seconds on Contador, with Valverde fighting back to take third on the stage. Contador should now lead the race but we're waiting on confirmation.
1 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 4:44:03
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:02
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:07
4 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:07
5 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:09
6 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:09
7 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:13
8 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ 0:00:28
9 Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij 0:00:46
10 Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
General classification after stage 2
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 8:46:33
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:03
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:05
4 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:05
5 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:07
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:11
7 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:12
8 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ 0:00:26
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:49
10 Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij 0:01:08
So Valverde is out of the leader's jersey but he still remains in the hunt for the GC. It was an impressive fightback given that he looked dead and buried after he tried and failed to follow Contador.
Team Sky had the numbers but not the punch to really make a difference. Poels made no impact on that climb and it was Landa, who attacked before Contador, who finished just ahead of Rosa.
Pinot has given himself an excellent chance of taking the leader's jersey in Friday's 11.9km individual time trial. The Frenchman is targeting the Giro d'Italia this year and today's ride will give him a huge amount of confidence after what was a difficult 2016 campaign.
As for Contador, the wait for his first win in Trek Segafredo colours goes on, although it's only been two days. He was mightily close today but was simply unable to hold off Pinot in those final 800m.
Thanks for joining us today. You can find our complete reports, results and photos, right here. We will be back tomorrow with more coverage from Ruta del Sol.
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