Ciolek wins Vuelta's stage to Emmen, Cancellara retains overall lead

German Gerald Ciolek (Milram) won the bunch sprint at the end of stage two of the Vuelta a España in Emmen, Netherlands, on Sunday. He benefited from the work of team Columbia-HTC and sped ahead of Italian Fabio Sabatini (Liquigas) and Brit Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam) at the line for the stage win.

"It was a surprise. It was so close and I was not sure who the winner was. I had the same problem in the Tour of Suisse, and I did not win," said Ciolek.

The sprint came at the end of a 203.7-kilometre stage from Assen to Essen. It was flat and technical, with only the Relus climb at kilometre 60.7.

Ciolek, 22, caught team Columbia's André Greipel and Garmin's Tyler Farrar by surprise. Columbia had done most of the work in the final kilometre, with almost the entire team on the front in the final five kilometres. Garmin, with a big surge by David Millar, paced Farrar up to Greipel's back wheel in the final kilometre.

Ciolek, Sabatini and Hammond washed them out, though. Ciolek barely held off the charge of Sabatini. The 24-year-old Sabatini's performance was a surprise, since Liquigas appeared to be working for experienced sprinter Daniele Bennati.

Greipel finished in fourth and Farrar fifth.

"There are many opportunities for the sprinters in the first week for sure," said Ciolek. He is looking to win again tomorrow, when the race passes through his country.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) continues to lead the race 24 hours after he won the opening time trial in Assen. He has eight seconds over Ciolek, nine seconds over Belgian Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and 12 seconds on the American Farrar.

Westra honours his dad

An escape of five spent the majority of the day off the front of the main group of Cancellara. Francisco José Martínez (Andalucía-Cajasur), Tom Leezer (Rabobank), Dominik Roels (Milram), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and David Garcia (Xacobeo Galicia) escaped at kilometre three.

Dutchman Westra was the highest placed classification rider in the escape. He tailed Cancellara by 27 seconds at the start of the day.

Westra, 26, made the escape group to honour his dad, who passed away in the last week. His teammates all wore black armbands to lend their support.

He remained off the front the longest of the five. The group, led by Garmin, caught him with11 kilometres left to race.

The five riders' lead hovered near the seven-minute mark under the control of Cancellara's Saxo Bank team. At 95 kilometres into the race, back in Assen, the escapees led by 6:37.

By the third hour of racing, Quick Step and Garmin-Slipstream came to the front of the group to help Saxo Bank maintain the break's advantage. The escapees' advantage was nearly five minutes with 70 kilometres to go. Their advantage fell further, under three minutes, at 50 kilometres to go.

Dutch team Rabobank also helped with the chase. It was working to protect classification rider Robert Gesink and sprinter Oscar Freire.

All five escapees shared the work evenly, but their advantage kept shrinking: 30 seconds with 30 kilometres to race. Spaniard Martínez lost contact soon after, on the 600-metre cobbled Tramo de Pavés sector.

Westra attacked his three companions shortly after. The group caught Leezer, Roels and Garcia at the entrance of Odoorn, 20.2 kilometres to race. Westra maintained 57-second advantage.

The peloton then reeled in Westra and headed into Emmen to start the finishing loop. Columbia and Liquigas moved to the front for their sprinters, André Greipel and Daniele Bennati, respectively.

Milram added to the lead-out work for Ciolek before the start of the final five kilometres, but it was the American team Columbia which looked the strongest. It had six riders at the front, with Marcel Sieberg and Gregory Henderson doing the last push at 63km/h for Greipel.

Ortega leads the way, in crashes

Spain's Manuel Ortega (Andalucía-Cajasur) had the honour of being the Vuelta's first rider to crash. He fell 30 kilometres into the race, but he was able to return to the main group and lacked serious injuries.

Spaniards David De La Fuente (Fuji-Servetto) and José Luis Rubiera (Astana) also crashed 61 kilometres later.

Ortega crashed again at 38 kilometres to race, but was able to re-join the group when a bigger crash occurred. A parked car limited space and several riders went down. Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil), Jesús Hernández (Astana), Fredrik Kessiakoff (Fuji-Servetto) and Vincent Jérôme (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) were the slowest to start riding again.

Spaniard José Ruiz (Andalucía-Cajasur) crashed in the Tramo de Pavés sector, just as Westra made his last push.

Sprints (and mountains)

Two sprints and one mountain marked the day's stage. Leezer won the fourth category Relus climb, which was without points towards the mountains' classification.

Spaniard Garcia won the first sprint at kilometre 36.8 and the second at kilometre 124.2. But Boonen's placings today and yesterday gives him the points' classification green jersey. He has 28 points, equal to the tally of Farrar and three points ahead of Cancellara. Garcia gained eight for the day and is in 13th place.

To Venlo, with a passage through Germany

The three-week Vuelta a España continues tomorrow in its third day. The 185-kilometre stage will take the riders from Zutphen to Venlo, Netherlands, with 17 kilometres in Germany mid-stage.

The riders will start racing in Spain on Thursday. They will use Wednesday to rest and travel from the end of stage four in Liège, Belgium.

It is only the second time the Vuelta has started outside of Spain in its history. The Vuelta started in Portugal 12 years ago, in 1997.

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Milram4:43:12
2Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas
3Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam
4André Greipel (Ger) Columbia-HTC
5Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
6Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
7Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence-Lotto
8Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
9Davide Viganò (Ita) Fuji-Servetto
10Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux
11Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil
12Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
13Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil
14Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Saxo Bank
15Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-NGC
16Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
17Francisco Jose Pacheco Torres (Spa) Contentpolis-Ampo
18Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervélo TestTeam
19Björn Schröder (Ger) Milram
20William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
21Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Fuji-Servetto
22Gregory Henderson (NZl) Columbia-HTC
23Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank
24Chris Horner (USA) Astana
25Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana
26David Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
27Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank
28Manuel Váquez (Spa) Contentpolis-Ampo
29Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
30Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
31Laurent Lefèvre (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
32Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
33Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
34Christophe Brandt (Bel) Silence-Lotto
35Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank
36Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil
37Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam
38Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto
39Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Milram
40Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
41Bingen Fernández (Spa) Cofidis
42Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis
43Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervélo TestTeam
44Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil
45Matthé Pronk (Ned) Vacansoleil
46Michael Schär (Swi) Astana
47Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto
48Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick Step
49Bert Grabsch (Ger) Columbia-HTC
50Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Silence-Lotto
51David Herrero (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
52Christian Knees (Ger) Milram
53Iñaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
54Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
55Mickaël Delage (Fra) Silence-Lotto
56Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Xacobeo Galicia
57Mathieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française des Jeux
58Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas
59Kim Kirchen (Lux) Columbia-HTC
60Francisco Pérez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
61Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
62Eros Capecchi (Ita) Fuji-Servetto
63Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
64Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne
65Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Rabobank
66Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step
67Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Astana
68Daniel Navarro (Spa) Astana
69Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis
70Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
71Paul Voss (Ger) Milram
72Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
73Juan José Cobo (Spa) Fuji-Servetto
74Rubén Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
75Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin-Slipstream
76Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank
77Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil
78Marco Velo (Ita) Quick Step
79Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale
80Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Columbia-HTC
81Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step
82Gustavo César Veloso (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
83Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil
84Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas
85Michael Albasini (Swi) Columbia-HTC
86Vicente Reynes (Spa) Columbia-HTC
87Mickaël Chérel (Fra) Française des Jeux
88Gonzalo Rabuñal (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia
89Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step
90Karsten Kroon (Ned) Saxo Bank
91Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-NGC0:00:18
92Jesús Rosendo (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur
93Xavier Tondo (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur
94José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam
95Manuel Calvente (Spa) Andalucía-Cajasur
96Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Saxo Bank
97Daniel Moreno (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
98Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
99Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Slipstream
100Emanuele Bindi (Ita) Lampre-NGC
101Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank
102Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana
103John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
104Rein Taaramäe (Est) Cofidis
105Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
106Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Milram
107Martin Velits (Svk) Milram
108Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil
109Xavier Florencio (Spa) Cervélo TestTeam
110David De La Fuente (Spa) Fuji-Servetto
111Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Fuji-Servetto
112Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux
113Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Slipstream
114Ludovic Turpin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
115Alexander Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale
116Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil
117Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank
118Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step
119Juan Manuel Gárate (Spa) Rabobank
120Fränk Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
121Aitor Hernández (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
122Joaquím Rodríguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
123Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervélo TestTeam
124Franck Bouyer (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
125Timothy Gudsell (NZl) Française des Jeux
126Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Lampre-NGC
127Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas
128Egoi Martínez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
129Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step0:00:24
130Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre-NGC
131David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Slipstream0:00:27
132Alan Pérez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:00:29
133Jean Eudes Demaret (Fra) Cofidis0:00:30
134Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis
135Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis
136Anthony Roux (Fra) Française des Jeux
137Françis De Greef (Bel) Silence-Lotto<