Vuelta Stage 2: Nacer Bouhanni takes the sprint, Alejandro Valverde the race lead
FDJ.fr rider takes first road stage of Spanish Grand Tour
Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ.fr has won Stage 2 of the 2014 Vuelta after taking the sprint in San Fernando, with Giant-Shimano's John Degenkolb second and the Lampe-Merida rider Roberto Ferrari third.
Peter Sagan of Cannondale had been one of the favourites for the stage, and had a chance of taking the race leader's red jersey had he won the 174.4km stage from Algeciras.
The Slovak was out of position in the final sprint however and finished outside the top ten, and it is Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, winners of yesterday's team time trial, who takes over the race lead from team mate Jonathan Castroviejo.
After the stage, Bouhanni said: "It was my goal to win a stage as soon as possible to take pressure off my FDJ.fr team.
"We’ll be more relaxed from now on. It’s important. I won the only bunch sprint I took part in at the Eneco Tour. It gave me the confidence after not riding for more than a month after the French championship.
"I trained well before the Eneco Tour. I knew the form was coming. Should there be other opportunities to win at the Vuelta, I’ll go for it.
The Frenchman, winner of the points classification at the Giro d'Italia in May, was asked if he had similar ambitions for the Vuelta. He replied: "My next goal is a second stage win. I’ll focus on that. We’ll defend the green jersey but this was only Stage 2.
"I’ll also try and do the intermediate sprints and this distinctive jersey could become a goal later on. But I won’t be obsessed by the points competition."
New race leader Valverde said: "It’s always exciting to get the leader’s jersey. But tomorrow there’s a small hill in the finale. It remains to be seen whether we ride for the stage or if we let the jersey go.
"I got the jersey today rather than one of my team-mates just because I stayed in the first positions to avoid gaps. But I’d have preferred one of my guys to take the red jersey.
"When I jumped into the bus, they told me: ‘what are you doing here? You’re the race leader!’ Now I’m not seeking time bonus in particular.
"In cycling, I love to win. Should I win a stage, the time bonus will come along. It won’t change my future if I win the Vuelta or not, or if Nairo Quintana wins. It’s almost decided. I want to stay with the team.”