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Vuelta a España 2013: Stage 2


Live coverage of stage 2 of the Vuelta a España, 177.7km from Pontevedra to Alto do Monte da Groba.

126km remaining from 177km

The move formed inside the opening kilometre of racing. When Greg Henderson jumped clear, Rasmussen and Aramendia were instantly across to his wheel and with a tough summit finish to come later this afternoon, the peloton was happy to leave the trio to it.

Henderson and Rasmussen are strong rouleurs, while Aramendia owned a seemingly perpetual membership of early breakaway attempts at last year's Vuelta, and so it's no surprise that they have worked very smoothly together thus far. They covered some 45 kilometres in the first hour of racing, which brought them along the Atlantic coastline and through Vigo.

Our race leader is Janez Brajkovic, after he led a very strong and well-organised Astana outfit over the line in Sanxenxo last night. It's hard to believe that seven years have now passed since he briefly held the overall lead in the Vuelta during his grand tour debut as a raw 22-year-old.

General classification after stage 1:

122km remaining from 177km

Meanwhile, the break's lead has now stretched out to in excess of ten minutes, thanks in no small part to the forcing of Alex Rasmussen on the climb. The Dane's Garmin-Sharp squad have been reduced to 8 riders following the abandon of Koldo Fernandez, and before the start, Johnny Weltz talked Cyclingnews' Alasdair Fotheringham through the crash that disrupted Garmin's team time trial yesterday evening.

The Alto de San Cosme is the only climb in the first 100 miles of racing today, but the stage finishes with a remarkably tough climb for such an early juncture in a grand tour. The Vuelta won't be won atop the category 1 Alto do Monte da Groba (11km at 5.6%) but we certainly could see the GC ambitions of a number of riders being downscaled on its slopes. Alasdair Fotheringham has reconnoitred the climb for us.

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Aramendia led the trio over the summit, claiming the points ahead of Henderson and Rasmussen.

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While Brajkovic wears the red jersey this afternoon, Nibali could well inherit it at the finish. Certainly, the Sicilian enjoyed an unexpected bonus in yesterday's team time trial, making some significant gains on his general classification rivals. After just 27km of racing, he had 22 seconds on Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao (Sky), 29 seconds on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), 32 on Roman Kreuziger and Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff), 56 on Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), 59 on Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and 1:26 on Ivan Basso (Cannondale).

88km remaining from 177km

It's fair to say that Gazzetta dello Sport has been excited that Vincenzo Nibali's exploits this season, and the headline on its report of last night's stage was a typically breathless. "Mamma mia, what a Nibali," it screamed. North of the Alps, L'Equipe's cycling section led with an interview with Joaquim Rodriguez, who told the newspaper:"I deserve to win a grand tour." In Spain, meanwhile, the front page of Marca was dedicated to Gareth Bale's impending arrival at Real Madrid rather than the action at the Vuelta.

78km remaining from 177km

Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) has raced sparingly this season but the soon-to-be 42-year-old is nothing if not ambitious. After his team's strong showing yesterday's team time trial, the American is hopeful that he can move into the red jersey this afternoon and he is optimistic about his chances further down the line. "The result we got in the team time trial let me think that I’m right to continue racing despite my age," Horner said. “I’d like to get the red
jersey today. I’m only ten seconds down. My goal is to make the top 3 of the Vuelta overall.”

73km remaining from 177km

Henderson, of course, has won an early stage of the Vuelta before, albeit in very different circumstances. Indeed, it was in a different country. Henderson zipped off the front in the finale of stage 3 in Venlo in the Netherlands in 2009 to become the first New Zealander to win a Vuelta stage since Paul Jesson won in Santander in 1980.

57km remaining from 177km

54km remaining from 177km

There has been a definite injection of urgency in the peloton over the past 10 kilometres are so, as the general classification contenders start to sit up and take notice. Ivan Basso has a cohort of Cannondale riders around him near the front of the race, while Movistar are also guiding Alejandro Valverde forward with purpose.

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Sky's Colombian pair of Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran are also moving towards the front of the peloton, which continues to be led by Lampre-Merida and Astana.

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Bauke Mollema (Belkin) is sitting at the rear of the peloton, but the Dutchman appears comfortable and is about to be nursed towards the front by a cadre of his teammates. Belkin, of course, are without the services of Theo Bos at his Vuelta. In keeping with MPCC regulations, the sprinter was sent home before the start yesterday after he returned low levels of cortisol in a pre-Vuelta control.

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Meanwhile, in Hamburg, John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) has won the Vattenfall Cyclassics, beating Andre Greipel and Alexander Kristoff in the sprint.

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Belkin hit the front and a glance at the TV motorbike's speedometer suggests that the bunch is touching speeds of 70kph. Small wonder that the break's lead has rapidly been slashed to just 2:20.

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Interesting to note FDJ's young duo Thibaut Pinot and Alexandre Geniez sitting near the front of the bunch on the climb. Movistar continue to set the tempo as they close in on Aramendia and Rasmussen.

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Ramussen and Aramendia are duly caught, while Movistar's pace-making is starting to jettison riders out the back of the large red jersey group.

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Movistar continue to set tempo in the red jersey group, but Astana are keeping tabs on affairs with Jakob Fuglsang and Vincenzo Nibali well-positioned.

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Janez Brajkovic is sitting near the rear of the reduced leading peloton, and the Slovenian may well struggle to hold on to his red jersey this afternoon.

7km remaining from 177km

That said, a number of the overall contenders are struggling. Samuel Sanchez is near the back and suffering, while Brajkovic is losing contact.

Back at the front, meanwhile, Nibali, Fuglsang and Alejandro Valverde are all pedalling smoothly and are very well positioned.

6km remaining from 177km

Janez Brajkovic is hanging on in there, but the peloton is strung out in a long line, and the red jersey is near the very back of that string.

Herrada's tempo is ensuring that the bunch is stretched and he is successfully dissuading attacks. His leader Valverde sits confidently on Nibali's wheel, while Saxo-Tinkoff duo Kreuziger and Majka are up there, Belkin's Laurens ten Dam and Mollema, and Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard).

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Brajkovic is now struggling at the rear of the leading group.

1km remaining from 177km

Konig, Moreno, Roche and Pozzovivo have a gap over the favourites' group and should fight out the stage win between themselves.

The road kicks up with 600 metres to go and Pozzovivo launches a rasping attack.

Pozzovivo doesn't have the legs to stay away, however. He's reeled in with 400 metres to go, and Nicolas Roche attacks immediately.

Roche opens a gap as the road flattens out and the Irishman looks set to claim the win.

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) wins stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana. Dani Moreno (Katusha) takes second place, but he couldn't get back on terms with the Irishman.

Pozzovivo came home in third ahead of Konig, while it seems Valverde led the group of favourites home 15 seconds or so down on Roche.

Even allowing for the time bonus, Roche won't have done enough to take the red jersey, which ought to stay with Astana. The question is whether or not Brajkovic succeeded in hanging onto the group of favourites.

Henao and Sanchez are the big losers of the day, although we're waiting on confirmation of their precise losses. The rest of the overall contenders seem to have all finished more or less together behind Valverde, 12 seconds down on Roche.

Brajkovic lost contact with the group of favourites in the finale, and it appears that the red jersey has passed to Vincenzo Nibali.


Roche becomes the third Irishman in the past five years to win a stage of the Vuelta a Espana. His cousin Dan Martin won two years ago, while Donegal's Philip Deignan set the ball rolling for the current generation of Irish talent with a fine win in Avila in 2009.


General classification:

Samuel Sanchez lost four minutes on the final climb, and all hope of overall victory, while Sergio Henao's podium chances also suffered a blow in the finale. Vincenzo Nibali, meanwhile, kept his cards close to his chest for much of the afternoon, but has moved into an early overall lead.

Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage from the Vuelta. A full report, results and pictures will be here shortly, and we'll be back with more live coverage from tomorrow's stage to Mirador de Lobeira. In the meantime, all the news and reaction from Spain will be here on Cyclingnews

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