Roche claims second Vuelta stage

Irish SaxoBank-Tinkoff rider breaks away on the final climb to claim Spanish Vuelta stage win as Nibali retains lead.

    Roche claims second Vuelta stage
    Stage two marked the first of a challenging 13 mountain stages in the Vuelta [EPA]

    Ireland's Nicolas Roche (Saxo) won the second stage of the Tour of Spain as he sprinted clear in the final few metres of the 177.7km ride from Pontevedra to Baiona on Sunday.

    Roche was followed home by Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) in second and third respectively, but Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali did enough to move ahead in the overall classification as he finished just 14 seconds back.

    "It is an incredible day for me," Roche told TVE afterwards.

    "I have done a lot of work to be in good shape for this tour.

    "I hope to keep having a good performance. If I can get to Madrid in fourth, fifth or sixth (in the overall classification) it will be an incredible tour for me."

    Challenge ahead

    Nibali meanwhile was happy to take the leader's red jersey at such an early stage but is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead of him over the next three weeks if he is to win the tour for a second time.

    "I am in very good condition and happy to have this red jersey that I already had once before back in 2010.

    "But the Tour of Spain is very long and hard so I have to keep going day by day."

    The first four hours of the race had been dominated by a three way breakaway as Francisco Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Gregory Henderson (Lotto-Belisol) and Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Sharp) built up a substantial lead over the peloton.

    The trio's advantage was as much as 13 minutes past the halfway mark before Lampre and Astana started to up the pace in the peloton and a strong headwind also began to hinder the leaders.

    Aramendia, Henderson and Rasmussen were finally caught just before the 11km category one climb up the Alto do Monte da Groba to finish, but apart from a short lived attack from Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) a large leading group remained together until the final two kilometres.

    Czech Konig Leopold (NetApp) was first to make a break, but Moreno and Roche responded quickly and it was the latter who was stronger in the final few hundred metres to take his first grand tour stage victory.

    Spaniards Ernesto Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) had a better day after disappointing team time trials on Saturday as they finished just 12 seconds back to remain in contention.

    However, it was a disastrous stage for Sergio Henao (Sky) as he was dropped on the final climb and lost 2mins 41sec.

    SOURCE: AFP


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