Fran Ventoso (Movistar) won for the second day in a row at the Vuelta a Castilla y León in another bunch sprint in northern Spain.
Ventoso kicked to his fourth win of 2011 to keep the race leader’s jersey in the 212km second stage from Valladolid to Salamanca. Crossing the line second was Sergio Ribeiro (Barbot) with Russel Downing (Sky) taking third.
Five riders peeled away early in a no-hope breakaway effort. With little more than a few hills to break up the monotony across the meseta of northern Spain, the break members had little favorable terrain to try to make their breakout a success. Saxo Bank and Euskaltel worked to keep them close before Movistar took over to drive home the bunch for a mass sprint.
For the second day in a row, former trackies Theo Bos and Graeme Brown (both Rabobank), two riders who are typically a factor in the sprints, got gapped in the final run to the line.
Pre-race favorite Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) finished 14th in the stage to stay close to nose of the peloton to avoid any possible splits in a rising finish-line straight.
The other overall favorites finished safely in the main bunch to keep the GC tight going into Friday’s decisive climbing stage from Benavente to Laguna de Peces in the mountains above Sanabria.
Friday’s climb isn’t among the steepest in northern Spain, but wind and possible rain could be a factor as a cold front is forecasted to be blowing into the region overnight.
“It is a mild climb. I remember it from 2009,” Contador said. “You can not make much difference there. Victory in this race will be the final sum of (Friday’s) result and Saturday’s time trial.
“(Friday) is a good day for many riders, there are tough rivals such as Tondo, Igor Antón, Coppel and some more. After these two first days, my sensations are good, but not super. Tomorrow we shall see, I’m not at top, but I hope to be with people in the front.”
- 1. Francisco José VENTOSO ALBERDI, (ESP) Movistar, in 5:06:23
- 2. Sergio Miguel Vieira RIBEIRO, (POR) , at 0
- 3. Russell DOWNING, (GBR) Team Sky, at 0
- 4. Aitor GALDOS ALONSO, (ESP) Caja Rural, at 0
- 5. Ruben PEREZ MORENO, (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0
- 1. Francisco José VENTOSO ALBERDI, (Spain) Movistar, in 9:19:20
- 2. Russell DOWNING, (Great Britain) Team Sky, at 0
- 3. Manuel BELLETTI, (Italy) Colnago-CSF, at 0
- 4. Ruben PEREZ MORENO, (Spain) Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0
- 5. Luke ROBERTS, (Australia) SaxoBank-Sungard, at 0