Vuelta a España: Nicolas Roche attacks on the Monte Da Groba to take stage two
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vuelta a España: Nicolas Roche attacks on the Monte Da Groba to take stage two

by Ben Atkins at 12:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, Race Reports and Results
 
Vincenzo Nibali takes over the red jersey as Janez Brajkovič loses contact

nicolas roche

Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) took his first victory of the 2013 season as he won the second stage of the Vuelta a España, between Pontevedra and the Alto Do Monte Da Groba, above Baiona, with a late attack. The former Irish champion jumped away from a group of four riders that had formed in the steep, final kilometres of the climb to the finish, and managed to hold off the chase of Flèche Wallonne winner Dani Moreno (Katusha) all the way to the line.

Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale) took third place, just ahead of Leopold König (NetApp-Endura), whose attack with a kilometre and a half to go had started the stage winning move.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) led the group of overall favourites across the line in fifth place, just 12 seconds behind Roche; Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) lost two seconds to his Spanish rival as a small split appeared in the group, but took the leader’s red jersey from teammate Janez Brajkovič, who lost contact late in the climb.

The time bonus on the line meant that Roche was now just eight seconds behind the Giro d’Italia winner in second place.

“On the final two kilometres, everyone was fighting for position in the front of the group,” Roche explained. “When the NetApp rider [König - ed] went away, I knew it was my chance because in a sprint, I wouldn't be able to win against guys like Valverde so I jumped after him.

“Entering the final kilometre, I was trying to stay calm and as the group behind was chasing,” he continued. “I opened the sprint from pretty far out and I just kept pushing to the finish line and ultimately, I took the win. I'm really happy and relieved. We were on this climb on last week's reckon so I knew the uphill finish. The whole team backed me up all the way and the win is definitely theirs as well.”

The 177.7km saw a long breakaway from Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Sharp), Greg Henderson (Lotto-Belisol) and Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), who were allowed to build an enormous lead of more than 13 minutes before the peloton began to reel them in.

A coastal headwind in the latter part of the stage made life tough for the three fugitives and, as they hit the foot of the final climb with 11.4km to go, they were less than a minute clear and were caught on the lower slopes.

Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) tried to get away as his teammate was caught, but the Movistar team took control of the peloton and nobody was able to successfully escape. As the climb steepened in the final two kilometres, however, König took his chance and jumped clear.

The Czech was steadily reeled in by Roche, Moreno and Pozzovivo and, after an attempted attack from Pozzovivo with 500 metres to go, Roche managed to escape and soloed to the finish.

Three get away as Astana leads the slumbering peloton behind

Henderson was the first rider to make a move in the opening kilometre, and the New Zealander was quickly joined by Rasmussen and Aramendia. The peloton refused to react to the three riders and they quickly began to open up their lead on the southerly coast road; after covering 45km in the first hour, the trio was 8’40” clear as they passed close to the finish and turned inland.

Aramendia led over the top of the 3rd category Alto de San Cosme, after 62.9km, with the gap now up to 11’27” and, as Rasmussen took the intermediate sprint in Ponteareas, after 82km, it was up to 12’32”.

As Astana happily led the peloton behind, the trio’s lead was to reach a maximum of 13’09”, at the 68km to go point, before Lampre-Merida moved up to help Astana chase.

As Henderson took the second intermediate sprint, in Guarda with 41.4km to go, the three riders were still 9’24” ahead, but this was the point that saw the race turn north along Spain’s north western coast, and the wind was now to start working against them.

Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) joined the Lampre-Merida team on the front of the peloton and the break’s lead began to fall rapidly. Work done by the Netherlands champion meant that, as he pulled over and handed the peloton back to the blue-fuchsia-green team with just over 20km to go, the gap was down to just 4’38”.

Belkin, RadioShack-Leopard, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Katusha then all sent men forward as the race neared the final climb and, as Henderson, Rasmussen and Aramendia passed through Baiona at the foot of the final climb, their advantage had been cut to 1’15”. Turning onto the final climb with 11.3km to go they were less than a minute ahead as Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) flew around at the head of the peloton.

Henderson was dropped almost immediately, as Rasmussen tried to resist for as long as possible but, as he and Aramendia passed under the ten kilometre banner, they were just 11 seconds ahead of the peloton, which was being led at pace by Movistar’s Pablo Lastras.

Lastras swept past the two riders shortly afterwards, with the peloton stretched out behind him but, as his teammate was caught, Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) jumped clear. With the speed that the peloton was travelling, the Basque rider was able to get just a few seconds clear, and was passed just a few hundred metres later.

Movistar turns the screw as several names are dropped

Lastras continued to set the pace, with Astana pair Jakob Fuglsang and Vincenzo Nibali on his wheel. Astana’s red jersey wearer Janez Brajkovič was having a less comfortable time, but was maintaining contact in the rear of the peloton as several others were being tailed off.

Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was among those to be struggling, with most of the orange team around him as the climb continued. Very soon, however, the former Olympic champion sent his teammates away and was left to his own devices for the final seven kilometres.

Movistar’s José Herrada was now setting the pace, and had pulled a group of around 50 riders clear, with most of the rest of the big names present. With five kilometres to go, however, as Sylwester Szmyd took over from his teammate, Sergio Henao (Team Sky) was dropped; realising that it was putting a number of its rivals in trouble, Movistar began to accelerate further on the flatter section of the climb as the peloton hit an exposed, windy section.

Sánchez was with a number of his teammates again, but was more than a minute behind the front of the race with three kilometres to go.

Just before the two kilometre banner Szmyd pulled over, and Movistar lifted the pace even higher as the climb began to steepen again. With a kilometre and a half to go though, König jumped away and the rest of the bunch failed to react.

Roche and Moreno were the first to give chase, with Pozzovivo following, and the three of them caught König just after the flamme rouge; leaving the Czech rider to sit on the front.

Pozzovivo attacked with 500 metres to go but, as König led the others back up to the Italian’s wheel, Roche made his own move. Moreno was chasing the Irishman up the final metres of the climb, but Roche was clear as he crested the top and took the final flat metres to the line.

Result stage 2
1. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha Team @ 2s
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 6s
4. Leopold König (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura @ 11s
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team @ 12s
6. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7. Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling @ 14s
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
10. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Sky Procycling

Standings after stage 2
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
2. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 8s
3. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) RadioShack-Leopard @ 10s
4. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard
5. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard
6. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Sky Procycling @ 22s
7. Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack-Leopard @ 27s
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
9. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 32s
10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff

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