Hello there and welcome along as we continue into the 2021 Vuelta a España. After yesterday's explosive opening time trial, it's time for the first road stage, and it's a largely flat one... but before the sprinters get too excited, we have a stiff wind blowing across much of today's 166km route.
This is the scene at the start this morning
🔏 Control de firmas Etapa 2 #LaVuelta21✍️ Signature podium Stage 2 #LaVuelta21👾 Síguelo / Follow it ➡️ https://t.co/ucxydh5v2Q 📸 @charlylopezph pic.twitter.com/uEkN3uWI9TAugust 15, 2021
We're in Caleruega this afternoon, which is still in the region of Burgos but far out of the city of Burgos, where we had yesterday's time trial. After a short jaunt south west, we'll be tracking a largely northerly path back up towards the city, and the wind will be blowing from the left. In the early stages, it looks strong enough and exposed enough to make some teams wary of the potential for splits.
Here's the map of the route. The wind is coming from the west.
The riders are signing on for the stage under bright blue skies and a hot sun. The roll-out is coming up at 13:32 local time, so in just over 10 minutes, and it's only a short neutral zone so we'll be racing not long after that.
Before we go anywhere, now's the time to catch up on yesterday's action. Full report, results, photos in the link below.
The riders are on the move.
There are more sprint opportunities than usual at this Vuelta and we have a few fast finishers on the start line, including Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange)...
We're still in the neutral so I'll run you through the jerseys.
Red (overall leader) - Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Green (points - on loan from Roglic) - Alex Aranburu (Astana-PremierTech)
White (best young rider) - Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
Polka-dots (mountains) - Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma)
And with that, the stage is waved underway
Three riders from the Spanish Pro Conti teams immediately fire up the road.
It's Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH), Sergio Martin (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
The trio already have a minute. This looks like our breakaway of the day, established with an absolute minimum of fuss...
The gap is up at 2:30, so it's growing but not ballooning. It's a lightly downhill start and the pace is high.
The gap is up to four minutes now so no one will be trying to jump across. This is our breakaway and it just depends on how much rope they are given from here, and whether the wind does indeed blow, in which case the breakaway would soon be rendered an irrelevance.
FDJ have appeared at the head of the peloton. They have one of the big favourites in Démare and they have one of the strongest sprint teams around him.
QuickStep have joined forces with FDJ. Often the red jersey's team takes control for the early kilometres but Roglic and Jumbo-Visma don't seem interested in that.
Jakobsen is QuickStep's sprinter and he's been on quite the journey since he almost lost his life a year ago. You can read his pre-race thoughts in the piece below.
The gap comes down to 3:15 as we reach Aranda de Duero and change direction from south-west to north-west. The roads aren't exposed at this point, though.
If you fancy a longer read then today we have the cover feature from the August edition of Procycling magazine. It's an interview with Chris Froome and you can read it in full.
The gap is stable at just over three minutes after nearly 40km of racing.
Three Olympic champs on the start line
A first shot of our breakaway
🏁 Km 35 | Etapa 2 - Stage 2 | #LaVuelta21🚴🚴🚴 @SergioRMartin_ @nava13diego @azparren_99 ⏱️Pelotón a 3'14"👉https://t.co/zqaO4Bw62K📸: @charlylopezph pic.twitter.com/5n6JD65733August 15, 2021
The gap falls to 2:45. We're working our way towards the part of the route where the race could split.
At the moment we're on a short stretch west, into the wind, but then the road is turning to the north and into a more direct crosswind. It's not that strong, but the roads are starting to get more remote and exposed.
The gap continues to fall. It's down to 1:45. It's not kicking off yet, don't worry, but this increase in pace could suggest something is afoot.
The gap has nudged back out to 2:15.
DSM had moved up with a train on the right but there's no echelon urgency at all for the time being.
100km to go
Into the final 100 and our three-man breakaway holds a lead of 1:45 over a peloton where FDJ and QuickStep are controlling the pace. It's a solid pace, with these exposed roads, but the wind isn't causing any drama or damage for the time being.
We're about to get another change of direction, this time turning from the north to the north east, which would be more of a tail-cross wind. That could still cause some damage but the wind doesn't appear strong enough today after all.
The gap dips to 1:15 but now it looks like the pace has eased in the peloton.
A definite easing and the gap goes back out to two minutes.
Some more special content on the site today, in the form of a new blogger: Red Walters.
Walters is a final-year U23 rider looking to fulfil his dreams of turning pro, and he recently landed the stagiaire spot on Hagens Berman Axeon that was sponsored by Tao Geogheghan Hart. In this first instalment, Walters writes about travelling to the Caribbean to represent Grenada, and trying to land a jersey...
86km to go
Another change in direction - back towards the north. The three leaders have 2:30 in hand.
Crash. Just one rider down - Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) - and he's quickly back on his way.
75km to go
A slight increase in pace again as we skirt around Lerma. The gap is around 90 seconds and the rider in the peloton are taking another feed. It's a really hot day out there and they'll be drinking a lot today.
Over in Norway, Annemiek van Vleuten has sealed the overall title at the Ladies Tour of Norway, as Chloe Hosking claimed the final stage victory. Report, results, photos here.
Another injection of pace, with Pidcock up there looking interested. This one's about positioning as we're about to head through a small town and then out the other side.
DSM have quite simply not budged from their position on the right-hand side of the road. They're not looking to try anything but they've been keeping Bardet up there, should anything happen.
An insight into today's finish from Alasdair Fotheringham
"Sunday will see the finish in an outlying suburb of Burgos called El Gamonal. The finishing straight, regularly used by the Vuelta up until 2013, is one of the race's most striking: 1.5 kilometres of corner-less straightaway on a broad two-lane boulevard.
"This Paris-Tours-esque finish is preceded by several kilometres of broad, untechnical city boulevards, as well as a long, straight downhill segment at around four kilometres to go. All in all, should the wind not cause any echelons on Burgos' exposed flatlands - as happened in the Vuelta in 2019 - the likelihood of a very fast bunch sprint are high.
"However, a word of warning: the last time the Vuelta reached the same finish in the Avenida de Vitoria in 2013, at the last minute Bauke Mollema managed to foil the sprinters with a blistering solo attack in the final kilometre."
Big shift in pace now!
We're about to take another of those turns into the tail-cross wind....
We've been on edge for so long today but this is the biggest push so far as Jumbo-Visma accelerate
63km to go
The gap to the three breakaway riders tumbles to 30 seconds.
And now they knock it off slightly again.
Pidcock is up there towards the front of the peloton, Adam Yates on his wheel.
Pidcock's comments on his Grand Tour debut day yesterday is still one of the most popular stories on CN right now and you can still read it at the link below.
It seems no one wants to really take this on. The wind is the sort of strength where it really needs a team or two to make a really big push to split it. Everyone at the moment is staying alert and out of trouble, adopting a more conservative approach. It's edgy, but no fireworks.
We are still 57km from the finish, on stage 2 of a Grand Tour, in hot and draining conditions. There are still possibilities all the way into Burgos, though, as the wind direction changes the closer we get to the city, swirling round into more of a south-easterly, which would give us a cross-tailwind on the due-east run into town from around 25km out.
40.7km/h is the average speed so far.
Movistar have taken up position in the middle of the road but any urgency has really drained away now and the gap is back up at 1:45.
It doesn't look so far that this is going to be a GC day, but yesterday was. The TT was only 7km long so it was never going to be pivotal but it nevertheless opened up some potentially significant gaps between the overall contenders from the get-go. Here's how they all compared.
35km to go
Demare's FDJ teammates are enjoying a sustained spell at the nose of the bunch and this is looking more and more like a traditional sprint stage now. The gap is 40 seconds.
31.5km to go and the breakaway have started attacking each other. Well, Diego Rubio has started attacking the other two.
Xabier Mikel Azparren is the first to lose contact. Sergio Martin hangs on for a few pedal strokes but then loses the wheel himself.
Rubio looks convincingly the strongest and it's unlikely the other two can get back to him. He's 1:07 ahead of the peloton with 28km to go.
Rubio passes under the 25km-to-go banner with a lead of a minute.
We have an intermediate sprint coming up in 9km time, which also carries overall bonus seconds of 3-2-1 for the first three.
A few teams seem interested in this sprint, and they're gaining on Rubio rapidly.
They can see him now and they're going to fly past.
It's Astana lighting it up here, with Luis Leon Sanchez. They'll be looking to do something for Aranburu, who was so close to the win yesterday. Close by six seconds, in fact, and he could halve his deficit to the red jersey if he takes this sprint.
Still 2km from the sprint and Astana are trying to lead this out.
EF-Nippo move up on the left.
Jumbo move Roglic up through the middle. Three riders in front of the red jerseyl
Here we go, Fraile leads out Aranburu but Jakobsen is interested too and takes it.
Ineos Grenadiers and Bahrain Victorious take the reigns now.
Intermediate and bonus sprint at Tardajos (km 150)
1. Jakobsen, 20 pts / 3 seconds
2. Aranburu, 17 pts / 2 seconds
3. Van Lerberghe, 15 pts / 1 second
4. Fraile, 13 pts
5. Pidcock, 10 pts
That means Aranburu cuts his deficit to Roglic to four seconds. He needs to finish on the podium on this stage to take the red jersey now, which is a tall order. Still, provisionally he will now own that green jersey outright.
10km to go
The bunch strings out as we head into Burgos. Ineos and Bahrain keeping their leaders out of trouble. AG2R working on the front as well.
No sign of FDJ or QuickStep at this point
Bora move up now. They have Jordi Meus and Martin Laas.
And now QuickStep appear, with GT debutant Mauri Vansevenant.
Astana now take the nose but FDJ are starting to move forward.
They take on a couple of roundabouts now and it's getting tense.
Pidcock is dropped. His work is done.
Groupama have the front now as UAE emerge. They have Molano and Trentin for this finale.
Intermarche, Israel, Cofidis, all punching riders up there. It's opening up.
4k to go so no safety net if there are GC riders caught up.
Several riders down after that crash, which happened in the middle of the bunch.
Bora have been badly hit. Gamper and another rider down for them and not getting back up yet.
Can't see any GC riders have been held up.
3km to go now and the race goes on. More roundabouts up front.
Meus is down so he won't be sprinting today
Alpecin-Fenix emerge for the first time today! They're here for Philipsen.
2km to go and Alpecin are leading the way with QuickStep positioned up there too.
QuickStep take it up through a big left-hander
1.5km to go and it's straight all the way to the line now.
Aranburu has set up shop on Jakobsen's wheel.
Final km now. QuickStep still leading out and still with numbers
UAE set up their leadout on the other side of the road
Trentin opens it up to lead out Molano now
Molano opens up but here comes Matthews
And Jakobsen makes up ground on the right...but there's Philipsen on the left!!
I think Philipsen grabbed that on the line!
Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) wins stage 2 of the Vuelta a España
Molano kicked with 200 metres to go, with Matthews in the wheel. Jakobsen went right, around Matthews as the Australian himself went to the right of Molano. Philipsen meanwhile eased into Molano's slipstream before moving past him on the left up against the barriers. And got there first. A great win.
That's redemption of sorts for the young Belgian after he picked up 6 podium finishes at the recent Tour de France without bagging a win. It's the second Grand Tour stage win of his career after he won a stage here last year.
It also means Alpecin-Fenix have won stages in all three Grand Tours this year. They are, remember, a second-division team.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||3:58:57|
|2||Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|3||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|4||Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates|
|5||Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech|
|6||Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|7||Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|8||Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|9||Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|10||Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis|
No idea what happened to Demare. Nowhere to be seen.
Let's hear from the winner
"It's incredible. Yesterday someone put it in our team group chat [that we could win the first sprint of all three Grand Tours] and for sure it was a dream but I didn't want to think about it because the chance is always less high than it would be true.
"It just shows how everyone from team is really motivated. It was a team effort and we can be really proud. It was amazing to see all my teammates there and everyone on the front line. I had a lot of support and this is how we can win sprints. Each of us can be very happy tonight and we start this Grand Tour in a good way."
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma||4:07:29|
|2||Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech||0:00:04|
|3||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:00:10|
|4||Josef Cerny (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|5||Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:11|
|6||Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:12|
|7||Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech||0:00:14|
|8||Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||0:00:15|
|9||Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma|
|10||Chad Haga (USA) Team DSM||0:00:17|
Full results are in and it turns out we did have some GC damage as a result of that late crash. Adam Yates and Lucas Hamilton have lost 31 seconds, and Hugh Carthy has lost 38. More on that to come.
"You need to survive. You always need a bit of luck. Luckily we got through," says Roglic of the crash.
As for what he knows about tomorrow's summit finish: "Nothing.I don't know it. We'll see tomorrow how much I will like it."
Full report, results, photos at the link below
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