Chris Sutton of Team Sky made up for the Briitish outfit's disastrous team time trial in Benidorm yesterday evening by winning Stage 2 of the 2011 Vuelta at the seaside resort of Playes de Orihuelas this afternoon. The Australian attacked on what proved to be a very tricky final climb to the line, with Vicente Reynes of Omega Pharma-Lotto second and Marcel Kittel of Skil-Shimano third. Daniele Bennati of Leopard Trek is the new race leader. Sutton’s victory rounded off a great afternoon for Team Sky – earlier, Edvald Boasson Hagen had won the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg.
A tricky approach to the line, with the road snaking as it rose up away from the beachfront inside the final 500 metres, made for a much tougher finish than it had appeared on paper and allowed Sutton and Reynes to get enough daylight over the chasing bunch to ensure that they would contest the finale.
It had been Leopard Trek’s David Viganò who had made the first move coming under the flamme rouge, and his team mate Fabian Cancellara then lead the peloton onto that final hill, looking to ensure that if overnight leader Jakob Fuglsang did lose top spot in the GC, it would be Bennati who would take over, and so it proved.
Although HTC-Highroad had done most of the work in chasing down an earlier break, the efforts of doing that meant that they faded somewhat in the closing stages, and the young German John Degenkolb ended up as their best-placed rider, in tenth place, with Mark Cavendish out of contention.
Today’s stage had headed south west along the Costa Blanca from the small town of La Nucia to the beach resort of Playas de Orihuela, passing through Alicante on the way. The temperature hit 40 degrees Centigrade on the first categorised climb of this year’s Vuelta, the Alto de Relleu, crested first by Paul Martens of Rabobank, who therefore becomes the first wearer of the polka dot jersey for the best climber in the 2011 Vuelta.
Although the heat eased off a little bit towards the coast, where there were also cooling winds, it made for an uncomfortable day in the saddle for many, and with hydration crucial, gave rise to the sight of Leopard Trek’s Fabian Cancellara playing domestique, riding back to his team mates with a good few cooling bidons stuffed under his Swiss national champion’s jersey.
Joining the German rider Martens in an early breakaway that had built a lead of six minutes by the time they passed through the town of Elche to swing back towards the coast were Adam Hansen of Omega Pharma-Lotto, AG2R’s Steve Houanard and Jesus Rosendo from the Spanish Professional Continental team, Andalucia Caja Granada.
It was Rosendo who lead the breakaway group through the day’s two intermediate sprints, which together with his climibing points puts him into the combination jersey this evening, but as the leaders approached the final 30 kilometres of the stage, the Australian rider Hansen attacked in a bid to go it alone.
The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider would be caught with around 18 kilometres left as the stage seemed certain to be heading towards a bunch sprint before that final little climb made its impact felt on the race.
Vuelta Stage 2 Result 1 SUTTON, Chris Team Sky 4h 11' 41'' 2 REYNES, Vicente Omega Pharma-Lotto All at same time 3 KITTEL, Marcel Skil-Shimano 4 FARRAR, Tyler Garmin-Cervelo 5 BRESCHEL, Matti Rabobank 6 BENNATI, Daniele Leopard Trek 7 GASPAROTTO, Enrico Astana 8 MONDORY, Lloyd AG2R 9 PAOLINI, Luca Katusha 10 DEGENKOLB, John HTC-Highroad 11 SAGAN, Peter Liquigas-Cannondale 12 VAN DEN BROECK, Jurgen Omega Pharma-Lotto 13 PETACCHI, Alessandro Lampre-ISD 14 VAN AVERMAET, Greg BMC Racing 15 MOLLEMA, Bauke Rabobank 16 HAEDO, Juan Jose Saxo Bank-SunGard 17 NIBALI, Vincenzo Liquigas-Cannondale 18 TAARAMAE, Rein Cofidis 19 FUGLSANG, Jakob Leopard Trek 20 SCARPONI, Michele Lampre-ISD Vuelta Overall Standings after Stage 2 1 BENNATI, Daniele Leopard Trek 4h 28' 11'' 2 FUGLSANG, Jakob Leopard Trek Same time 3 SAGAN, Peter Liquigas-Cannondale + 4'' 4 NIBALI, Vincenzo Liquigas-Cannondale + 4'' 5 AGNOLI, Valerio Liquigas-Cannondale + 4'' 6 DEGENKOLB, John HTC-Highroad + 9'' 7 MONFORT, Maxime Leopard Trek + 10'' 8 KITTEL, Marcel Skil-Shimano + 10'' 9 GASPAROTTO, Enrico Astana + 10'' 10 KISERLOVSKI, Robert Astana + 10''
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.