La Vuelta | Stage 2



Roglic stays in red

As we expected. All the main GC men escaped that crash at 4km, it looks like.
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Looks like Philipsen, Aranburu and Jakobsen will be tied on points

If my calculations are correct, they all three now have 50 points. My guess is Philipsen nicks the green jersey from Aranburu by virtue of having won the most stages (one).

Jasper Philipsen wins the stage!

Molano makes the jump early, but can't hold on... he fades in the final 200m with Michael Matthews and Philipsen coming past at speed. Jakobsen looked to get second place. Jon Aberastaurri looked to sneak into the top five.
Demare faded to nothing after all that hype!

And here's Demare!

The Frenchman is coming up strong.

Flamme rouge – Alpecin hit the front now

With Deceuninck lurking over their shoulders. Molano and Aranburu still in the mix.

4km to go – Big crash!

Many bodies on the floor. Two Bora Hansgrohe riders at the epicentre. That's awful luck, Patrick Gamper is taking a while to get up. Jordi Meeus too, their sprinter for today.

5km to go – Trentin guides Molano

While Geniets looks after Demare. Tom Pidcock has just been dropped.
Team DSM are doing their best to position Dainese, too.

10km to go – Here's that intermediate

Lots of jostling in the peloton as everyone want's to be in the front 20 riders.

15km to go – Jakobsen beats Aranburu into second

The Dutchman nicks that intermediate sprint from the Astana rider. Could that be a preview of what's to come in 15 kilometres time? It's hard to picture Aranburu having the gas to go up against Demare in a full feld sprint, but it was interesting to see Jakobsen getting among it. He must fancy a tilt at the jersey.
Aranburu's points haul at the intermediate, plus the ones he scored yesterday for coming second, puts him into the outright lead of the points classification. He's 14 points ahead of Jakobsen, who got the maximum of 20 at the intermediate just now, but didn't score yesterday.

20km to go – They hit the gas!

Suddenly this stage bursts into life. They have decided they're gonna drag race this all the way to the finish, it looks like. There's an intermediate sprint yet to come in about 5km.

25km to go – He's still out there!

The 30-year-old Spaniard Diego Rubio has 52 seconds of gap. The other two riders from the break are now swallowed up by the peloton.
The directors in Rubio's team car look quite animated! They're not giving up on the dream just yet.

30km to go – Rubio alone

The Burgos BH riders is looking to nail down that most aggressive rider prize. He has dispensed with the two youngsters that were accompanying him in the breakaway and forges on solo towards Burgos. Don't forget that the Burgos of his team name and the town of Burgos where the race finishes today are one and the same, so any chance of a home victory will be grasped at keenly. No matter how remote.

40km to go – Points mean prizes

Today's winner will take the lead of the race's green jersey points classification and this year that contest has actually been tweaked a little, to increase the likelihood of a sprinter winning it. In past years, the contest for green hasn't really been a contest, going to one of the GC riders, rather than a fast guy – or even a Sagan-style swashbuckling rouleur. To 'fix' that, the Vuelta's organisers have changed the weighting of points awarded for stage wins, so that a flat stage wins you more points than a mountain stage. It reflects the way other Grand Tours operate, and I think should be a vast improvement.
I actually got up on my hobby horse about the green jersey last year, which you can read here if you have the inclination.
It’s time to fix La Vuelta’s points jersey

50km to go – Final hour!

Well, that's that for the potential 'echelons'. I guess it can't be Christmas Day every day, can it? As they broach the 50km-to-go barrier, the peloton is back in relaxed mode, with the breakaway now once again enjoying a lead of over a minute. Just a quick reminder of who is actually in the breakaway.
Diego Rubio (Burgos BH) Sergio Roman Martin (Caja Rural) and Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel).

60km to go – Zipping along

The peloton is really rattling along now, but there's no sign of any splits. False alarm, or a case of no team actually wanting to unleash hell at this early stage of the race. It's a long way to Santiago de Compostela, after all!

65km to go – The gap dwindles

With quite a considerable chunk of the stage left to come, that nervousness in the peloton and the pressure to get near the front has led to a significant drop in the time gap to the breakaway. We're approaching the point where there might be enough crosswind to force an echelon or two, and so the nerviness goes off the charts.
The break has just 36 seconds now! They could get caught by mistake here...

75km to go – The enchanting vastness of central Spain

The helicopter shot we have just seen on the TV was captioned 'Paramos de El Cerrato'. As far as I can work out, a paramo is an uncultivated bit of land with quite poor soil. Sort of 'scrap fields'. It's an odd thing to draw attention to, but this part of Spain is quite featureless at times. It's very flat, and part of the same high plain that Madrid sits upon. It can get excoriatingly hot, of course, despite the altitude – with the mercury hitting 35°C today.
Jay Vine just had himself a little crash when the peloton bunched up but the young Aussie is fine. He gets up quickly, perhaps feeling a little sheepish but not hurt.

85km to go – Tight turns

Despite being in the middle of Spanish nowhere, the race organisers have managed to find some very tight turns for the peloton to negotiate. We've just seen the back of the peloton coming to almost a dead stop as they took a left-hander. It really does emphasise how much more effort it takes to be at the back, where you must slow down for the turns much more, than at the front.
It's still Groupama pegging back the breakaway, who have 2'28" at this moment in time.

100km to go – Valverde back at the cars

The venerable old racer is hanging out at the back of the bunch as the peloton continues to make its way languidly towards the finish line in Burgos. I've had a little look at the weather on the plains near Palencia and for me this is not going to turn into a mayhem-filled echelonstravaganza.
If there is a chance of crosswind, it comes in about 10km when the peloton turns east at Villafruela, but for me the wind isn't blowing nearly strong enough there to force any meaningful splits. There's a second opportunity about 50km from the finish at Santa Maria del Campo.

115km to go – Sprinters in the mix

As well as Demare, there are a few other riders that might harbour hopes for today's finale. One such is Jasper Philipsen, the Belgian with the Scandinavian-sounding name riding on Alpecin Fenix. He has had a very profitable 12 months (as has his whole team) and will look to continue the winning ways that saw him bag Scheldeprijs at the start of the season, not to mention a stage at La Vuelta last year.
Fabio Jakobsen's recovery from that awful crash in the Tour of Poland last year continues and his two wins at the Tour of Wallonie will give him a good deal of confidence coming into this. Pre-injury, Jakobsen picked up two stage wins at the 2019 Vuelta.

130km to go – Siesta time

It has settled down considerably here now, with the peloton seemingly content to wait this one out. We also haven't seen much in the way of crosswinds yet, as the race route makes its way north across the plains of what I'm clumsily referring to as 'middle Spain'.

140km to go – Dangerous Demare

It's understandable that Demare is a hot favourite today. When he's good, he's very, very good – and the field of sprinters here at La Vuelta is not quite up to the same standard as we have seen in recent years. Indeed, Demare knows what it takes to win a Grand Tour stage, having taken victories in both the Tour and the Giro. If he were to win today, or on one of the other sprint stages, he would join that exclusive club of riders who have taken a win in all three of the Grand Tours. Omar Fraile is the only other rider on the start list who has the same opportunity to complete 'the set' at this edition of La Vuelta.
Groupama continue to do the lion's share of the chasing. The gap is 3'18".

145km to go – Deceuninck join the party

The Belgian squad is helping Groupama now to control this break. The gap is stable at 3'30", which is a bit more encouraging for our trio of leaders, but still not yet. the kind of margin that'll give any of them real hope of a victory.
We've also got our first glimpse of the breakaway.

150km to go – Gap grows

The time gap between the peloton and our three leaders (and the feral hogs) is now just over a minute. It's all being kept quite tight to be honest, perhaps a virtue of the very small time gaps created by yesterday's prologue. Azparren is the best-placed rider on the general classification, at +32 seconds.
No surprises that it's the team of today's out-and-out favourite Arnaud Demare (Groupama FDJ) pulling in the peloton.

155km to go – No TV pictures of the race yet

Which is all very retro-feeling in this era of non-stop, wall-to-wall televisation. Really puts the power back into the hands of the live blogger. If I tell you that the three men in the break have been joined by a pack of 50-60 feral hogs, that's what you have to believe.

165km to go – The stage is underway

And immediately we have a breakaway. It's three riders from three of the smaller Spanish teams: Diego Rubio of Burgos BH, Sergio Roman Martin of Caja Rural (who you may remember briefly led the stage yesterday) and Xabier Mikel Azparren of Euskaltel. They have a gap of 17 seconds, which might yet invite a few more riders over to try and join the fun, but on a day like this that is so heavily tipped to be a sprint, it's hard to see which other teams might bother.

166km to go – Fast, furious and fun!

That's what we're expecting of today's stage. The parcours says 'sprint' but the weather forecast says 'wind'. And as aficionados of the race like to say, La Vuelta, she is loco... If full pandemonium breaks out in the promised crosswinds this might yet turn into a GC day as well. Yum, yum, yum.
We're not quite ready to roll through kilometre zero just yet, the riders are still tackling the neutralised start. It's a 166-kilometre stage today. Welcome to the Stage 2 La Vuelta live blog!

Is La Vuelta 2021 more than Roglic vs Bernal vs Landa?

Fresh from winning the Olympic time trial gold medal, Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic will look to draw a line under his Tour de France heartbreak with victory in the third and final Grand Tour of the season. Just as he did in 2019 and 2020 – bouncing back from respective disappointments in the Giro and Tour – the 31-year-old will be drinking at the last chance saloon that is the Vuelta in a bid to end his season on a high.
Roglic entered the Tour with the aim of pushing compatriot Tadej Pogacar all the way following his penultimate day implosion in 2019 – only for a crash in the opening week to end his chances of yellow jersey glory. After withdrawing on the first weekend in the Alps, Roglic regrouped at the Tokyo Olympics and will take to the start of the Vuelta in Burgos with a gold medal in his trophy cabinet and the prospect of becoming only the third rider in history to win three Vuelta’s back-to-back-to-back very much in the offing.
In his bid to follow in the tyre tracks of Switzerland’s Tony Rominger (1992-94) and Spain’s Roberto Heras (2003-05), Roglic will be backed up by a strong Jumbo-Visma team which blends experience, youth, and uphill firepower. At the one end of the age spectrum, dependable Dutch duo Robert Gesink and Steven Kruijswijk will dovetail with the youthful climbing duo of Koen Bouwman and Sam Oomen; the American Sepp Kuss adds a little pizzazz (not to mention a viable Plan B) while powerhouse pair Nathan Van Hooydonck and Lennard Hofstede offer protection for the flat stages.
It’s a team that should inspire Roglic with confidence – and provided he had the legs, he will be favourite to retain his title on a route bookended by time trials and featuring no fewer than 10 uphill finishes.

Ineos and Bahrain to push Jumbo-Visma all the way

But what of his opponents? Ineos Grenadiers boast not one, but two Olympic gold medallists in Tokyo road race victor Richard Carapaz and Grand Tour debutant Tom Pidcock, who showed his versatility by winning the mountain bike race event in Japan. Neither, at least on paper, are the main focal point of an Ineos team that features the reigning Giro champion Egan Bernal and Britain’s Adam Yates.
Colombia’s Bernal showed that he was back to his best after a year struggling with back issues following his Tour de France win in 2019 – and victory this September would see the 24-year-old become the youngest ever winner of all three of cycling’s Grand Tours.
Movistar are continually given grief for fielding a leading triumvirate to major races – and usually this grief is wholly warranted once relations and tactics descend into total bedlam on the road. But Ineos Grenadiers have a potential quadrant once you throw into the equation Russia’s Pavel Sivakov, who came ninth in his debut Giro two years ago.
Through a combination of bad luck and unfortunate crashes, Sivakov has struggled to replicate that form since, and the 24-year-old will surely be in domestique mode on Spain. Quite who he will be supporting, however, remains a mystery and could well be decided on the road. Carapaz finished runner-up in last year’s Vuelta and came third in the Tour – although he could be tired after his Olympic exertions – while Yates did win the Volta a Catalunya earlier this spring, but has yet to tide a three-week race for Ineos. It’s no guarantee that Bernal will be top dog – especially if his back problems return – but if he does, the Colombian should be Roglic's principal adversary.
A strong support crew is completed by Ecuador’s Jhonatan Narvaez, Italy’s Salvatore Puccio and Dutchman Dylan van Baarle – but all eyes will be on 22-year-old Pidcock who has all the attributes in his locker to perhaps one day win a race like this. Like Remco Evenepoel, though, his debut Grand Tour may above all prove to be a learning curve: the Belgian tyro performed excellently for the first 10 days in the Giro for Deceuninck-QuickStep before tailing off after the first rest day and eventually abandoning following a crash.
Another rider who left the Giro following a high-speed spill was the Basque climber Mikel Landa, who looked to be in fine form before his race came to a sudden end in the frantic finale to Stage 5. Never before had the 31-year-old had such a chance to break his Grand Tour duck – and his good legs were there for everyone to see at the recent Vuelta a Burgos, which he won ahead of Fabio Aru.
Supporting Landa on a formidable Bahrain Victorious team will be this year’s Giro runner-up, Damiano Caruso, the Australian climber Jack Haig and the former Team Sky stalwart Wout Poels of the Netherlands. Haig saw his own Tour de France hopes dashed after breaking his collarbone in one of the crashes which peppered Stage 3, and the 27-year-old makes his return to action this Saturday.
Switzerland’s Gino Mader, who plucked a maiden Grand Tour stage win the day after Landa’s withdrawal from the Giro, is part of a support crew that also includes the experienced Japanese domestique Yukiya Arashiro, the Slovenian engine Jan Tratnik, and Ukraine’s Mark Padun, who made ripples by winning back-to-back mountain stages in the Dauphiné off the back of some serious weight-shedding on a high-altitude training camp this spring.
It’s hard seeing beyond Roglic, Bernal and Landa when it comes to conjuring up a predicted podium – but we all know how fast things can change during a Grand Tour.
Read Felix Lowe's full preview here
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