It was the second day of what was supposed to be an attackity decisive pair of stages in this year’s Vuelta 2017. It was decisive – I guess – in that no one really got any time on Chris Froome and in fact he gained some by doing nothing more than staying steady throughout the stages. So there’s that. But further down the GC, it’s starting to really hot up, not least because Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) went crazy on the last climb – in a stoic-faced kind of way – to take another stage win solo.
Rider of the Race
While Lopez is looking like he has some tricks in his bag for week 3 – strong? you betcha – my Rider of the Race today is Adam Yates. The Orica-Scott rider slipped away from the red jersey group on the first climb after Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) made a bid for glory (or in fact tried to set up a Contador attack later on in the climb of the Alto de Hazallanas) and, hot damn, he stayed away until 4km to go, when Lopez caught him, passed him, dropped him. But he rode with heart, he took a chance and he had the best posture I’ve ever seen on a bike.
What now, my loves?
I’ve tried to be optimistic that the Vuelta would be a race that would have a great GC challenge – that there would be attacks from the GC guys at every opportunity, that the red jersey would pass from shoulder to shoulder a few times before the final podium in Madrid.
I’ve lost my optimism now. Two of the biggest, hardest stages and no one could break Froome or his Sky train. For all the attacks that Contador tried, he’s still in 9th, he’s still over 3mins away. For all the times when it looked like Froome might be struggling even a bit and the riders in contention for a podium either didn’t attack or attacked in a way that was futile. And with a 40km TT on Tuesday, that really might just be it for the top spot of the podium. Red jersey determined on stage 3. Stage. Three.
But what can a cycling fan do? I have no idea what the guys are feeling on those climbs, I have no way of knowing how hard the pace is that Sky sets, I have no idea how Sky keeps the intensity. I just know that, other than Baby Blackbird’s continuous attacks, breakaway winners and Quick-Step … I’m really not loving this stifled Vuelta.
Top 5 stage
1 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) 3:34:51
2 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +0:36
3 Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +0:45
4 Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) +0:47
5 Chris Froome (Sky) same time
Top 5 GC
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 62:06:25
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +1:01
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +2:08
4 Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +2:11
5 Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) +2:39
All the jerseys
Leader: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points: Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step)
KOM: Davide Villella (Cannondale-Drapac)
Combined: Chris Froome (Sky)
Team Classification: Astana
Most Aggressive Rider: Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)
Header image: Miguel Angel Lopez ©GETTY / AFP / Jose Jordan