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Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Burgos brings the peloton from Castrojeriz to Villadiego. The flat, 168km stage should provide an opportunity for fast men like Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Mark Cavendish (Bahrain-McLaren), though, as stage 1 showed, there are pitfalls everywhere on the exposed roads of Burgos.

Today's stage is due to get underway at 12.46 local time, but word has reached us that the peloton will depart without three UAE Team Emirates riders. Sebastian Molano, Cristian Munoz and Camilo Ardila have been withdrawn as a precaution as they had recent contact with a person who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. The three Colombian riders returned negative tests in the build-up to the race. 

We will have more on this story as it develops. Five riders have now been withdrawn from the Vuelta a Burgos as a result of having recent contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19, after Israel Start-Up Nation's Alex Dowsett and Itamar Einhorn didn't take the start yesterday. Israel Start-Up Nation and UAE Team Emirates both followed the correct protocol and withdrew their riders as a precaution, but this demonstrates the precariousness of the resumption of racing. Maintaining a secure 'bubble' is going to be difficult in a sport of large pelotons and frequent international travel.

Het Laatste Nieuws reported this morning that Movistar had urged the entire Israel Start-Up Nation squad to withdraw from the Vuelta a Burgos altogether rather than simply pull two riders from the event. Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), on the other hand, had only praise for Israel Start-Up Nation's actions: "It's great that they do it this way and don't try to hide things. I think they did well by quarantining their riders right away. Every team has to react that way." Read more here.

We'll have more details on the developing story regarding the withdrawal of UAE Team Emirates riders Sebastian Molano, Cristian Muñoz and Camilo Ardila here.

Amid it all, a bike race is taking place. Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) claimed a convincing win on the uphill finish at Mirador del Castillo on stage 1 and the Austrian carries the leader's purple jersey into today's stage. The GC picture is as follows ahead of stage 2:

The peloton is on the start line and ready to roll out to begin stage 2 of the Vuelta a Burgos. There are no classified climbs on the 168km run from Castrojeriz to Villadiego.

-168km

Alasdair Fotheringham is on hand at the Vuelta a Burgos for Cyclingnews, and he spoke with UAE Team Emirates manager Joxean Fernandez ‘Matxin’ at the start. “It was something that had to be done. As a team we had all the experience of what happened back this spring [at the UAE Tour – ed.] and we know how important a question this is," Matxin said. “As soon as the riders found out that the guy they had been in contact with had tested positive, they told management and we decided they could not continue.”

-160km

You can read an updated version of the story on the withdrawal of three UAE Team Emirates riders from the Vuelta a Burgos here. Four UAE Team Emirates riders remain in the race: Fabio Aru, Fernando Gaviria, Max Richeze and David de la Cruz. "It’s unlucky we can only start with four riders, but we’re still with many options, even for today with Fernando and Richeze," De la Cruz said on the team's social media channels. "We are four riders, but in good shape."

It's a bike race, but not quite as we know it. Alasdair Fotheringham is on hand at the Vuelta a Burgos this week and he has provided this eyewitness account of the protocols and procedures in place at starts and finishes as professional cycling reckons with competition in the age of COVID-19. "When it came to spectating for the first major men's road-race held under COVID-19 conditions on Tuesday at the Vuelta a Burgos nobody could claim they hadn't been told what they could or couldn't do," Alasdair writes. Read the full story here.

-150km

There were two non-finishers on yesterday's opening stage, as Sebastian Henao (Ineos) and Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) were forced to abandon after a crash. Henao suffered a dislocated right shoulder, while Leemreize successfully underwent surgery to reattach part of a finger severed in the crash. Read more here.

-135km

Bora-Hansgrohe are setting the tempo in the peloton in defence of Felix Großschartner's overall lead. Alessandro Fedeli (Nippo Delko Provence) began the day 16th overall at 8 seconds, and with the break 4 minutes up the road, the Italian is the virtual race leader.

Race leader Felix Großschartner Vuelta a Burgos

Race leader Felix Großschartner ahead of stage 2 of the Vuelta a Burgos. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Riccardo Verza (Kometa Xstra), Joel Nicolau (CajaRural-RGA Seguros), Ángel Fuentes (Burgos-BH), Alessandro Fedeli (Nippo Delko Provence) and Kiko Galván (Kern Pharma) have four minutes in hand on the peloton after a little over an hour of racing. Bora-Hansgrohe continue to control affairs in the bunch for the time being, though we can expect Deceuninck-QuickStep and others to put their shoulders to the wheel in the latter part of the stage.

Away from the Vuelta a Burgos, RCS Sport have revealed details of the revamped route for Milan-San Remo, which is due to take place on August 8. The route miss the Turchino, Capo Mele, Capo Cerva and Capo Berta after 13 mayors in the province of Savona refused to allow the race to pass along the Ligurian coast, citing concerns of traffic and crowding problems on one of the busiest weekends of the Italian tourist season. The revised route will spend longer in Piedmont, making its way across the hills of the Langhe en route to the finale on the Cipressa and Poggio. The Colle di Nava, which replaces the Turchino, comes just 65km from the finish. "It'll create an interesting finale that could be more selective," said race director Mauro Vegni. Stephen Farrand has more here.

RCS Sport also secured late, late permission to reduce team sizes to six riders rather than seven, allowing them to issue late, late invitations to Bardiani-CSF and Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec. This in turn has stoked the ire of Jumbo-Visma manager Richard Plugge, who expressed his annoyance on Twitter: "Irresponsible and sportperformance wise a ridiculous decision to start #msr with 6. The fact that this request is granted is incomprehensible governance less than 12 days before the start."

The five escapees covered 40.4km in the opening hour of racing, while the temperature is just north of 30°C.

-118km

-110km

A reminder of today's main news from the Vuelta a Burgos. UAE Team Emirates have withdrawn Sebastian Molano, Cristian Muñoz and Camilo Ardila from the race after they came into contact with somebody who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. "The three Colombian athletes on Saturday had been in recent contact with a person (outside the race) who turned out to be positive for COVID-19 yesterday. Following the protocol of the Team and the UCI, the three riders were isolated, sent home and will all undergo another test today," UAE Team Emirates said on Wednesday morning. Read the full story here.

-101km

Mitchelton-Scott came to the Vuelta a Burgos with a strong team, but two of their potential GC contenders suffered a blow yesterday when they lost 3:12 after being caught up in a crash. Simon Yates and Jack Haig will still hope to shine on the stages to Picon Blanco and Lagunas de Neila. Esteban Chaves finished in the group of favourites yesterday, though directeur sportif Matt White downplayed the team's GC aspirations. "We've been out of competition for five months and our main goal is that we exit here better than we came in," White told Cyclingnews. "But at the same time we're here to race, so if we get stage wins, great. And if there's a GC option with Esteban, that'll be a bonus, but his bigger goals are a way down the line, so it's a good chance to see where he's sitting one month out from the Tour." Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.

Mark Cavendish is lining today in only his third race for Bahrain-McLaren, the team he joined at the beginning of this season to reunite with his old mentor Rod Ellingworth. Last year, Cavendish served as guest editor of Procycling, and he interviewed Ellingworth for that special edition of the magazine. You can read the conversation between pupil and teacher here.

Cavendish hasn’t won a race since the Dubai Tour in 2018, but he is one of the notable fast men in the peloton this afternoon, alongside Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Matteo Trentin (CCC Team).

-72km

Remco Evenepoel illuminated yesterday's stage with a solo attack with almost 40km to go, but the best-placed Deceuninck-QuickStep rider at the finish was João Almeida, who placed a fine second behind Felix Großschartner on the uphill finale. The 21-year-old Almeida is in his debut season at WorldTour level and he already caught the eye with a strong display at the Volta ao Algarve in February, when he helped Evenepoel to final overall victory. Evenepoel, incidentally, still placed 10th yesterday, in the same time as Almeida, despite his earlier exertions on stage 1. 

-67km

Matteo Trentin drops back to the CCC car for a bidon and a quick tactical discussion. The Italian underlined his form with a solid 9th place on yesterday's uphill finish and should be in the mix this afternoon.

A smiling wave from Fabio Aru to the television camera reflects the current air of calm in the peloton, which is 3:16 behind the break with 62km to go. 

-60km

NTT and Bora-Hansgrohe continue to set the pace in the peloton, while Alejandro Valverde and his Movistar team retain a watching brief just behind.

The break's lead is beginning to drop steadily as NTT and Bora-Hansgrohe continue their work on the head of the bunch. The gap is down to 2:41.

More seconds are flaking off the break's advantage. 2:16 the gap with a shade under 52km to go. 

-50km

-45km

Alasdair Fotheringham is at the finish in Villadiego and he has reconnoitred the final kilometre. He tells us that the race will descend gently into town on a relatively broad road, but the real test for the sprinters could well be their position on the roundabout that takes the peloton right and slightly uphill with about 500 metres to go. The finishing straight curves slightly to the left on a two-lane city centre road. It’s not too technical, though that last bend could be quite fast. 

-40km

Meanwhile, the break's lead has dropped inside two minutes as they navigate a seemingly interminable straight. 

A front wheel puncture for Remco Evenepoel, who, despite his disc brakes, gets a rapid change from his Deceuninck-QuickStep mechanic and sets off calmly in pursuit of the bunch.

-37km

Evenepoel pedals smoothly through the convoy of team cars. His teammate Andrea Bagioli drops back to help pace him up to the peloton again. and the Belgian duly latches back on. 

-33km

And at that, Deceuninck-QuickStep formally join the pursuit at the head of the bunch on behalf of Irish champion Sam Bennett. The intensity ratchets up a notch in the peloton.

Andrea Bagioli's contribution to the pace-making has had an immediate impact on the break's lead, which has dropped to 1:13 with 31km to go.

Groupama-FDJ also look poised to join the pace-making effort at the front of the peloton on behalf of Arnaud Demare.

-29km

The break has splintered in two after an attack from Kiko Galvan, but it looks as though the quintet will come back together. Meanwhile, the bunch is just 37 seconds behind.

-25km

-24.5km

A masked Caja Rural soigneur hands up a bidon from the roadside to Nicolau, who incites his companions to keep working. Deceuninck-QuickStep, NTT and Groupama-FDJ control affairs in the bunch, 40 seconds behind.

The escapees enter Villadiego for the second time and pass the finish line itself for the first time. 23km remain and their lead is 42 seconds.

-20km

The peloton fans across the road. None of the sprinters' teams want to catch the break just yet, so the four leaders might linger out in front a little longer. 24 seconds the gap with 18km to go.

Delegations from CCC Team, Mitchelton-Scott and Bahrain-McLaren are all visible near the head of the peloton, and the pace picks up all over again as the bunch hurtles towards a sharp right-hand turned and some exposed roads. It's not clear if there is enough wind to split the bunch, but a couple of teams seem keen to try all the same.

-17km

The bunch is still all together. Delegations from Ineos and Jumbo-Visma also moved up just before the race swung onto these narrower roads. 

-15km

Delegations from Mitchelton-Scott, Movistar, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep are all posted in the front row of the peloton, which is travelling at a brisk pace with 14km to go. 

The transition between broader and narrower roads is perhaps the greatest obstacle in the finale to this stage. At each transition, a sprinter or GC contender risks losing vital positions, and so vigilance is the byword on the run-in to Villadiego.

-10km

Bora-Hansgrohe set the pace on an unclassified climb and some gaps are beginning to open in a lined out peloton.

-8km

-7km

-5km

-4km

-3km

-2km

A number of competing trains are battling for position and now Deceuninck-QuickStep move up for Sam Bennett...

-1km

Groupama-FDJ hit the front on behalf of Demare...

Fernando Gaviria flashes past Demare and hits the front as he opens his sprint...

Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) wins stage 2 of the Vuelta a Burgos.

Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) was a distant second ahead of Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), but Gaviria's win was never in doubt.

Enrique Sanz (Kern Pharma) crashed on the final roundabout, but the Spaniard is on his feet and is able to finish the stage.

Result

Gaviria's victory brooked no argument. He tracked the Groupama-FDJ lead-out as far as that roundabout and subsequent right-hand turn, and then flashed clear as the race entered the slightly uphill finishing straight. He immediately opened a winning gap and there was nothing Demare or Bennett could do to get back on terms. 

Gaviria was, of course, without three teammates today, as his fellow countrymen Sebastian Molano, Cristian Muñoz and Camilo Ardila were all sent home after it was discovered they had had contact with a person who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Gaviria himself contracted the coronavirus while at the UAE Tour in February and he spent six weeks in quarantine in Abu Dhabi in the spring. "So far I've felt normal on the bike and that's a relief," Gaviria said on the eve of the Vuelta a Burgos, and normal service was resumed today. That was his fourth win of 2020 after he picked up a stylish hat-trick of sprint victories at the Vuelta a San Juan in January.

Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished safely in the main peloton to retain the overall lead ahead of stage 3. 

General classification after stage 2

Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) on his victory: "It was good teamwork, we were together at all times. We didn’t do any work to control the breakaway because we were three riders down. It was a blow for us, not having Molano, who’s one of my lead-out men. But still, we were able to count on legs and luck, and at the right moment we came together to do a good sprint and get the win.

Result

General classification after stage 2

A full report, results and pictures from today's stage of the Vuelta a Burgos are available here.

VILLADIEGO SPAIN JULY 29 Podium Fernando Gaviria Rendon of Colombia and UAE Team Emirates Celebration Trophy during the 42nd Vuelta a Burgos 2020 Stage 2 a 168km stage from Castrojeriz to Villadiego VueltaBurgos on July 29 2020 in Villadiego Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: David Ramos/Getty Images)

VILLADIEGO SPAIN JULY 29 Podium Felix Grossschartner of Austria and Team BoraHansgrohe Purple Leader Jersey Celebration Hostess Miss during the 42nd Vuelta a Burgos 2020 Stage 2 a 168km stage from Castrojeriz to Villadiego VueltaBurgos on July 29 2020 in Villadiego Spain Photo by David RamosGetty Images

(Image credit: David Ramos/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Thanks for following our live coverage of the Vuelta a Burgos this afternoon. We'll be back with more tomorrow from the pivotal stage 3. In the meantime, Alasdair Fotheringham will have all the news and reaction from Villadiego.

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