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Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2018: Stage 2


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The escapees forged clear inside the opening 20 kilometres and had a lead of 4:15 in hand by the time they hit kilometre 32 as the pace in the peloton slackened off considerably. Cuadros led the break over the top of the day's first climb, the Puerto Lope (category 2), and their buffer has since extended to 7 minutes.

There are four more climbs to come. The Alto del Castillo (category 3), the Puerto de Locubín (category 2), the Puerto de Valdepeñas (category 3) follow in rapid succession, before a lumpy run-in to Jaen, and the tough category 1 climb to the line on the Alto de las Allandas.

After testing how well he could hit his public relations talking points before yesterday’s stage – his first race since news of his adverse analytical finding for salbutamol broke in December – Chris Froome (Team Sky) will face a robust test of his physical condition on the final climb today. Froome beat Alberto Contador to the summit of the Alto de la Allanadas three years ago at the Ruta del Sol.

“Obviously, this is my first race of the season. Yesterday didn’t feel too good to be honest so we’ll see how it goes on the road today, make that call for the final during the stage, whether I go for the stage win myself or I get behind one of my teammates. Wout [Poels] is in great shape at the moment, he could be up there, or [David] De La Cruz or [Philip] Deignan,” Froome said at today's start in Otura.

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Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie) wears the leader's red jersey this afternoon thanks to his victory on stage 1. The Frenchman came very, very late to upset Sacha Modolo (Education First-Drapac), who celebrated on crossing the line only to realise he had been pipped by Boudat.

The top of the general classification is as follows after stage 1:

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Froome's presence at the Ruta del Sol against the backdrop of his positive test for salbutamol has inevitably dominated the headlines this week, but there is racing on three fronts at the moment. Dylan Groenewegen won stage 1 of the Volta ao Algarve yesterday, while Greg Van Avermaet claimed victory on stage 3 of the Tour of Oman this morning. You can read a report here, while our woman in the Gulf Sadhbh O'Shea has Van Avermaet's thoughts on his first win of 2018 here

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Astana have increased their intensity at the head of the peloton, and the break's lead has dropped accordingly. The gap now stands at 5 minutes.

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Both Cuadros and Kasperkiewicz have been beset by mechanical problems on the descent of the Valdepenas, and the break is beginning to fragment as the speed ratchets upwards.

Gougeard, Eenkhoorn and Rubio are pressing on at the head of this break, and they look to be distancing their companions. Astana continue to pile on the pressure in the peloton.

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Up front, Gougeard is doing the bulk of the pressing at the head of the break on this descent, while Eenkhoorn sits a few lengths off the back of Rubio's wheel through the series of twists and turns. There is a short uncategorised ascent to La Guardia de Jaen to follow, ahead of the 5.5km haul to the summit of the Alto de las Allanadas.

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As expected, we will have a new race leader this evening. Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie) is unceremoniously dumped out the rear of the peloton as Astana continue to pile on the pressure.

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Rubio climbs out of the saddle as the gradient stiffens to 17%, and he is inching away from Gougeard...

Gougeard refuses to give in, but he will struggle to close this gap to Rubio, who is beginning to disappear out of sight.

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Philip Deignan (Sky) is also present towards the head of the peloton representing the interests of Chris Froome.

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Luis Leon Sanchez and Fuglsang lead the chase group, which contains Chris Froome.

The Astana tandem's efforts are helping the chasers to claw back ground on Wellens, but only in very minor increments for the time being.

Wellens looks over his shoulder and sees he has a lead of 80 metres or so. He presses on gamely.

Wout Poels accelerates viciously from the chasing group and begins to zoom across the gap to Wellens. Sanchez gives chase.

Poels and Sanchez catch Wellens, but Landa and Fuglsang bridge across almost immediately. This quintet should fight it out for the win...

Poels kicks once again and opens a lead of 20 metres on the rest.

Poels looks to have a winning gap but Sanchez gives desperate chase...

Wout Poels (Team Sky) wins stage 2 of the Ruta del Sol.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) was second across the line ahead of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).

Mikel Landa (Movistgar) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) were next, followed by Marc Soler (Movistar).

Chris Froome (Team Sky) was never in contention for the win, and he came home in 7th place, 27 seconds down on his teammate Poels.

General classification after stage 2:


There are 30 kilometres or so remaining in the Volta ao Algarve, and Susan Westemeyer has updates on all the action here.

You can read a report of today's Ruta del Sol stage here. Full results and pictures will follow in due course.

Speaking after the stage, Chris Froome (Team Sky) said that he realised early on that he would not be in contention for the win this afternoon. “I called it pretty early, I told the team I wasn’t feeling at my absolute best, and I said to the guys ‘let’s put everything behind Wout and give it everything we’ve got,'" Froome said at the finish. Alasdair Fotheringham will have the full story shortly on Cyclingnews.

Team Sky have scored a second win on the Iberian Peninsula this afternoon. Michal Kwiatkowski has won stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve, while Sky's Geraint Thomas has moved into the overall lead. Read the report here.

A reminder of today's result on stage of the Ruta del Sol:

General classification after stage 2:

Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Ruta del Sol on Cyclingnews this afternoon. We'll be back with more tomorrow. In the meantime, you'll find a full reports, results and pictures here, and Alasdair Fotheringham will have all the news and reaction from Andalusia.

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