Great teamwork and superb turn of speed saw Nacer Bouhanni take the second Vuelta stage after a tricky finish in San Fernando. Movistar retain the leader’s red jersey, but it passes from the shoulders of Jonathan Castroviejo to those of Alejandro Valverde.
Right, left, right, right, WIN
There aren’t many Vuelta stages that are marked down as certain sprint finishes. But with one sole third-category climb coming just 10km from the start, this stage was as close as the fast men were going to get to their ideal parcours.
The final kilometre on the streets of San Fernando was very technical, with a series of corners and narrow pinch-points to be negotiated. Positioning was crucial; any rider with a hope of winning had to be at the front as the peloton rushed into the first of four right-angled turns.
As such, the 10th win of the season for Nacer Bouhanni was never in doubt once FDJ.fr got to the first of those corners in first position. The French team doesn’t always get their sprint train working, but today they did a fantastic job. Bouhanni was superbly led out by teammate Geoffrey Soupe, and had enough speed to hold off a powerful John Degenkolb (Giant Shimano). Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) rounded out the podium.
Nacer sounded very positive, and very motivated when he was interviewed after the stage: “We worked very hard for this,” he said. “The last moment we were in a great position. It’s a great day for me and for my whole team. We have to take our chances when we can. Each time I have a chance to win, I will take it. Maybe I can win a couple stages. Maybe I will give myself the goal of taking the points jersey.”
I would like to add a special mention for the fourth place taken by Jasper Stuyven (Trek) – a superb effort by a first-year professional in his first ever grand tour.
VeloVoices rider of the day
The prestigious VeloVoices rider of the day award is given to a rider who has come to our attention, for whatever reason. It could be for winning, working for the team, or making a brave but ultimately doomed attack – anything, so long as it is done with some style and panache. Today I have chosen Nathan Haas for this piece of Garmin-Sharp tactical brilliance.
It sounds easy doesn’t it? Just get in the break, and then make sure you are first over the summit of the only categorised climb of the day. With the climb coming very early in the stage, and blue polka jersey on offer, you can bet your bottom dollar this wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Chapeau Mr Haas.
Stage 2 result
1. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) 4:01:30
2. John Degenkolb (Giant Shimano) same time
3. Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) s/t
4. Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing) s/t
5. Francesco Lasca (Caja Rural -Segros) s/t
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistart) 4:15:43
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) same time
3. Andrey Amador (Movistar) s/t
4. Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) s/t
5. Imanol Erviti (Movistar) s/t
6. Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) s/t
7. Oscar Gatto (Cannondale) +0.06
8. Michael Mathews Orica-GreenEDGE) same time
9. Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale) s/t
10. Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t
Points leader: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ).
King of the Mountains leader: Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp).
Best young rider: Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida).
Team classification: Cannondale.
Header: Bouhanni takes victory (image: Vuelta a España)