Valverde Wins Stage 2 of Vuelta; Takes Race Lead
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) has won Stage 2 of the 2008 Vuelta a Espana. The Caisse d'Epargne rider bolted into the lead in the last 200 m to win the rolling, 176-km stage from Cordoba to Jaen in 4:23:00. Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) outsprinted Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) for second at 0:02. Valverde is the new yellow jersey.
The hostilities began early. By seven km, Jesus Rosendo Prado (Andalucia), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Cyril Lemoine (Credit Agricole), and Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff) had escaped. The gang of four led the field by 4:06 at 69 km.
Liquigas chased, and with about 50 km left, the gap was under 3:00. Martinez attacked, and only Rosendo Prado could follow him. With 35 km remaining, they led the peloton by 3:45.
Quick Step took over at the front. With 20 km left, the bunch was within 1:00 of the break. Martinez attacked and dropped Rosendo Prado. Luis Pasamontes (Caisse d'Epargne) set out after him. Quick Step, Bouygues Telecom, and Rabobank chased furiously and reeled in the break.
Mauricio Ardila Cano (Rabobank) and Xavier Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne) counterattacked. Nicholas Roche (Credit Agricole) lunged past the pair. With 15 km left, he led the field by about a dozen seconds. Grisha Niermann (Rabobank) bridged up to Roche.
David Moncoutie (Cofidis) attacked, and Roche took his wheel. Marc de Maar (Rabobank), Evgeni Petrov (Tinkoff), Nick Nuyens (Cofidis), Dani Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne), and Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) bridged up to the move with eight km left. The peloton reacted and shut down the move.
One km later, Yaroslav Popovych (Silence), Gianni Meersman (Francaise des Jeux), and Matej Jurco (Milram) attacked. Caisse d'Epargne, which was working for Valverde, chased and reeled in the break with four km to go.
With one km left, Joaquin Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) attacked. Rodriguez was brought back, and Riccardo Serrano (Tinkoff) began sprinting with 350 m remaining. Valverde had his countryman's wheel and blew past him with 200 m left.
In the overall, Valverde leads Filippo Pozzato and Daniele Bennati (both from Liquigas) by 0:13. Stage 3 will have the riders returning to Jaen from Granada. The stage is likely to end in a bunch sprint. Will Valverde make it two in a row? Will Tom Boonen (Quick Step) or Oscar Freire (Rabobank) win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!