VIANA, Spain (VN) — John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) came from behind to win stage 2 of the Vuelta a España on Sunday.
The German overhauled Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEdge) and Ben Swift (Team Sky) in the final meters of the 181.4km stage from Pamplona to Viana. It was the 23-year-old’s first stage victory in a grand tour.
Degenkolb said his Argos-Shimano teammates brought him back to the fore when he briefly lost the wheels in the finale.
“Koen de Kort put me back in the game and it was a sprint between three riders. In the end I was the strongest,” he said. “The last 400 or 500 meters were slightly uphill from the last roundabout. You need power for sprinting in these conditions. That’s what I’m like and that’s what I’m made for.”
The stage was marked by an early break — Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Caja Rural), Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) and Javier Chacon (Andalucia). Terpstra was a threat to the overall, sitting seventh at 10 seconds behind race leader Jonathan Castroviejo, and Movistar was very much not interested in him getting away, so he left the others to enjoy their day in the sun and dropped back to the field.
And a very hot sun it was, with temperatures in the high 90s to low 100s.
The trio soldiered along on the largely flat stage, building a gap of more than four minutes, before the bunch set about gradually bringing them back.
Chacon was first to fall off the pace as the Movistar-led peloton closed in, but he had the first king of the mountains jersey to keep him company after “winning” the cat. 3 ascent of the Chapela (Aramendia was relegated for an infringement after actually reaching the summit first). His breakaway mates were snatched up shortly thereafter as the bunch entered the finishing circuit in Viana.
Sergei Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) tried a solo dig with 5km to go, but got nowhere, with Ag2r La Mondiale and Orica-GreenEdge leading the pursuit.
In the final charge to the line Swift appeared to have it in the bag, but then Degenkolb overhauled him for the win ahead of Davis and the Sky speedster.
“Our goal was to win minimum one stage. We already got the minimum. It takes pressure away from us,” said Degenkolb. “We’ll try to survive the hard stages, tomorrow and the day after, and until the first rest day, we’ll have more opportunities to sprint for the win.”
Davis said he got a good setup from his mates only to have Swift shut the door on him.
“Swifty took me from the right side of the road to the left instead of going straight. That’s how I lost,” he said. “I got a really good lead out from my team, the best of all the sprinters here, so I feel sorry for them that I didn’t win.”
Castroviejo retained the red jersey of the overall leader, but isn’t planning to keep it.
“This stage was not too difficult. The wind, which we were worried about for the final part, didn’t blow in the end,” he said. ”I don’t know how long I will be able to wear this jersey. Tomorrow I have to help the team leaders.”
Monday brings stage 3, a 155.3km leg from the Faustino V wine cellars to the category 1 summit of the Arrate, in Elbar. En route the peloton will face two cat. 3 climbs and one cat. 2.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from stage 2 of the Vuelta a España.