Good morning and welcome to the Cyclingnews live race centre for stage 2 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
After yesterday's opening time trial, today we have a hilly route starting and finishing in Alicante, that could come down to a reduced bunch sprint or even a breakaway win.
As we pick up the action, with almost 30km on the clock, a breakaway of eight riders has established a lead of two minutes over the peloton. Up the road are:
Mathias Van Gompel (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
Joan Bou (Nippo-Vini Fantini)
Mikel Iturria (Euskadi-Murias)
Raul Alarcon (W52/FC Porto)
Nigel Ellsay (Rally UHC)
Ibai Azurmendi (Fundación Euskadi)
Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH)
Diego Sevilla (Kometa Cycling Team)
The stage climbs from the start, and Diego Rubio led the way over the Alto de Maigmó (Cat-2) after 24.5km
126km remaining from 166km
The riders have completed a short descent and are on the undulating terrain towards the second climb of the day, the Alto Canali.
Yesterday was the opening stage and saw Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) take the leader's jersey with victory in a 10.5km time trial.
World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished eighth, six seconds ahead of Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
All the details, along with results and a photo gallery, can be found here.
The gap between the peloton and breakaway still stands at a modest two minutes.
Dimension Data are controlling the peloton with the jersey on the shoulders of Boasson Hagen. They're giving it some, too, as the gap to the break drops to 1:40. Boasson Hagen is a candidate for the stage win again today, able to get over the last climb and then sprint at the finish.
Your daily update from our man on the ground, Alasdair Fotheringham.
"The profile is hilly but it's not as bad as it looks. I think it will be a small bunch sprint," he says.
"The finish is in the middle of Alicante on a slightly uphill boulevard. There's a big roundabout with about 300 metres to go, but it's not looking that technical. The weather is warm, sunny - about 15 or 20 degrees - with virtually no wind."
Geraint Thomas is one of the big-name riders at this race and on the opening day he quashed speculation that he might go for the Giro d'Italia this year rather than the Tour de France. Here's the story:
60km remaining from 166km
Rubio once again takes maximum points as the break reach the top of the Cat-2 Alto de Canali, the second of three climbs on the menu today. The Spaniard beats Bou and Iturria to the top and is heading for the mountains jersey at the end of the day.
The peloton held back slightly on the climb, and the gap to the eight leaders has gone back out towards the three-minute mark.
A long rolling downhill phase now for the riders, which will take them to the undulating roads that precede the Alto de Carrasqueta, the final climb of the day.
Isn't it the second day of Dr Richard Freeman's medical tribunal? I hear you ask.
Well, no. It kicked off yesterday but it was something of a false start, as Freeman - accused of ordering testosterone to dope a rider - was absent, and his lawyer immediately secured a 48-hour adjournment. That means it's been delayed until tomorrow, but even then it probably won't get going properly... I was there for the whole charade. Full story at the link below.
91km remaining from 166km
Back in sunny Valencia, and the peloton has put its foot back on the gas. 1:30 is the gap with just under 100km left to race.
87km remaining from 166km
At the intermediate sprint, towards the bottom of this descent, Sevilla gets to the line first, ahead of Bou and Rubio.
The average speed so far is 37.5km/h.
One of our top stories on the site today is this exclusive interview with Kristina Vogel by our women's cycling correspondent, Lukas Knofler. Vogel talks discusses challenges, inspiration, and her future with paralysis.
76km remaining from 166km
It's all calm in the peloton as the riders pass through the feed zone. 2:15 is the gap to the eight breakaway men.
Here was Boasson Hagen at the start this morning.
The final climb isn't so hard, and there are 40 largely downhill kilometres from the top to the finish line, so it will be a tough ask to drop the sprinters, but the terrain from here until the start of the climb proper is tough, so teams will have to start early if they want to get rid of the fast men.
59km remaining from 166km
The gap remains stable at 2:15 as the road tilts uphill.
Astana and Mitchelton-Scott are currently controlling the pace in the peloton. Astana have Magnus Cort as a candidate for a sprint, while Mitchelton have European champion Matteo Trentin.
We're not on the climb proper yet but the road is uphill, though very much big ring territory still. At the moment it's Esteban Chaves riding hard on the front for Mitchelton-Scott.
The high pace has seen the break's advantage plummet to 52 seconds.
Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) is surely the strongest sprinter, on paper, in this field. Anther pure sprinter is Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis). Elsewhere there are plenty of sprinters who can absorb climbs, such as Trentin, Boasson Hagen, Cort, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), and Ben Swift (Team Sky).
53km remaining from 166km
53km to go and, after a short little descent, the road is rising again towards the final climb, which will begin with around 45km to go.
The Alto de Carrasqueta is a category-three climb. It's just over 5km long with an average gradient of less than 5%.
The breakaway riders are attacking each other but the peloton is within eyesight on this twisting climb. It's almost over.
Alarcon attacks the break. The peloton is in single file just behind.
49km remaining from 166km
The breakaway is caught and the peloton is as one.
Still Astana and Mitchelton dictating at the head of the bunch.
The peloton is bunched up at the front, strung out at the back, as we approach the foot of the final climb.
Astana take it up on the lower slopes. The riders who were in the break are being dropped.
Boasson is sitting around 10 wheels back, Trentin just behind him. Dimension Data also have Giacomo Nizzolo here, so it'll be interesting to see how they play this. Boasson Hagen could add to his overall lead with bonus seconds.
The fastest sprinter in the bunch has last contact, and this could open the race up. The Dutchman has no fewer than five teammates who have already dropped back to pace him.
Mitchelton-Scott and Astana have been drilling it for some time now, well in advance of this climb, and it's paying off....
Groenewegen's face is a picture of suffering as he sits in the middle of this Jumbo-Visma TTT.
40km remaining from 166km
Luis Leon Sanchez leads Astana over the top of the climb at the head of the peloton.
Groenewegen and his teammates come over the top now, nearly 40 seconds in arrears.
A reminder that there are still 40km to the finish. It's mostly downhill, though neither steep nor technical. LottoNL still have the numbers and firepower to drag Groenewegen back. If they do, though, how will that climb and subsequent chase affect his final sprint?
Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie) has opened up a small gap on the descent.
Terpstra is pressing on as the gradients ease.
Despite dropping Groenewegen, Astana aren't going full gas down here, and so Terpstra is extending his advantage.
The road flattens now and Astana do pick it up again, and they come back towards Terpstra.
No time gaps at the moment, but it looks like Jumbo-Visma is still some way back, though far from out of it.
25km remaining from 166km
The road is much flatter here, contrary to what the profile suggests.
42 seconds is the gap to Groenewegen!
Cofidis have committed a man to the front of the peloton. They still have Bouhanni safely in the main peloton.
Mitchelton are more prominent again, now, as Astana take more of a back seat for the first time in a while.
17km remaining from 166km
Groenewegen's men are making inroads now.
And the gap is coming down quickly now as both parties sense the junction is inevitable.
14km remaining from 166km
Groenewegen is back in the peloton. All together with 14km to go and we're heading for a full bunch sprint.
Groenewegen is present, but how much power has been sapped from his legs?
As things come back together, things relax slightly but things will soon wind back up to full tilt for the run-in.
Movistar are up at the front now protecting Valverde.
Geraint Thomas has his nose in the wind, working for his teammates. Sky have two cards to play in Chris Lawless and Ben Swift.
10km remaining from 166km
10km to go and UAE have men on the front. Kristoff is their man.
Thomas on the left, UAE on the right. Movistar in the middle.
Cofidis reassert themselves now with two men on the front. Can Nacer Bouhanni get an early win?
The road narrows dramatically and the peloton is strung out.
And now back onto the open highway. Thomas leads the way.
Dimension Data hit the front with two men in front of Boasson Hagen.
6km remaining from 166km
Jumbo-Visma now move up on the right.
Movistar now on the front as the shape of the peloton moves into a spear. Valverde is second wheel.
Still Movistar on the front. Direct Energie look to move up now. They have Thomas Boudat as a candidate.
4km remaining from 166km
Final 4km. Direct Energie lift the pace with three riders on the front.
This is a simple run-in, except for a roundabout with 300 metres to go. Positioning will be important going into that as it won't be long before the sprint will need to be launched.
3km remaining from 166km
Direct Energie fall away as Sky come back up.
2km remaining from 166km
Sky have five riders on the front going into the final 2000m
Boasson Hagen is on the back of the Sky train.
Trentin is moving up now. Bouhanni up there too.
Here we go. final 500m
Trentin comes through the roundabout in pole position
Trentin leads for the line, Bouhanni coming back...
Trentin wins it!
Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) wins stage 2 of the 2019 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
We spoke about the importance of that roundabout, and Trentin knew it. He came to the front at just the right moment, leading through the chicane and coming out the other side in pole position. Bouhanni was on the wheel but couldn't come around, while there was a small gap back to Swift, who finished third, and then the rest of the field.
Boasson Hagen retains the overall lead.
Colbrelli was fourth, ahead of Kristoff, Boasson Hagen, and Boudat.
After all Astana's work, Groenewegen finished outside the top 10, but then so did their own sprinter, Cort.
1 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott 04:10:12
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis Solutions Credits
3 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
4 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:01
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
7 Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energie
8 Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy
9 Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
10 Christopher Lawless (GBr) Team Sky
General classification after stage 2
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data 04:23:07
2 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:05
3 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:00:07
4 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:08
5 Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team 00:00:11
6 Pello Bilbao Lopez de Armentia (Spa) Astana Pro Team 00:00:12
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:14
8 Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:18
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:19
10 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky 00:00:20
And we can hear from Trentin, courtesy of Eurosport.
"The team was amazing today. We had a plan together with Astana during the race actually to make it as hard as possible for the pure sprinters like Kristoff and Groenewegen and company. It was working pretty good, actually, Chaves and Nieve did an amazing job. Then Juul-Jensen and even Adam Yates was pulling.
"In the finale I was on the wheel of Luka [Mezgec] and when I saw someone start from really far away, I don't know who, I jumped on the wheel of Bouhanni and started the sprint with maximum speed and it worked."
So Trentin wins in his first race of 2019. It's a far cry from last year, when he broke a rib in pre-season training and endured a slow start to the year. In fact, he didn't win until the European Championships in August.
"Last year I had a bad start to the season with crashes and injury so I wanted to do the best start possible with a victory or a really good performance so I can be a bit more relaxed going into the Classics," Trentin said.
"The first day and it's already good. For now, it's ok."
Here's our report page, where you can find our write-up, results, and photos.
That's it from us today. Keep your eyes peeled on Cyclingnews for all the news and reaction from Valencia, where Alasdair Fotheringham will have stories on Trentin, Thomas, and Van Avermaet. Back for more tomorrow.
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