Degenkolb Sprints to Victory in Stage 2 of Vuelta
John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) has won Stage 2 of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana. The German took a bunch sprint to win the flat, 181.4-km run from Pamplona to Viana. Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEdge) finished second, and Ben Swift (Sky) took third. Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) remains the red jersey.
Hot (39 degrees Centigrade), windy conditions greeted the riders. At six km, Javier Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), and Javier Chacon (Andalucia) escaped. Originally, Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was a break member, but his proximity to the red jersey (0:10) caused Movistar to chase and Terpstra to drop back to the bunch.
The bunch kept the break on a fairly short leash, and the fugitives' advantage maxed out at about five minutes. The peloton gradually ate away at the break's lead, which was 2:45 with 35 km left.
With 30 km to go, Chacon was dropped. Aramendia and Ignatiev forged ahead, but the peloton was inexorable. With 18..9 km remaining, 0:39 separated bunch and break. With 12 km left, the break was no more. Seven km later, Sergei Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked, but the peloton reeled him in.
The finish was slightly uphill. Swift charged for the line but faded. Davis took the lead, but Degenkolb pipped him at the finish line.
In the overall, Castroviejo leads teammates Nairo Alexander and Javier Moreno by 0:01. The red jersey will change backs tomorrow. Stage 3, a 155.3-km ride from Faustino V to Eibar, will feature the 2012 Vuelta's first mountaintop finish. The riders will take on two Category 3 ascents before tackling the Alto de Arrate at the end of the stage. The stage will be an early test for the contenders. Who will win? Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha)? Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank)? Christopher Froome (Sky)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!