(c) Sirotti

Vuelta a Andalucia 2018, Poels wins stage 2!

Wout Poels (Team Sky) takes the second stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta del Sol 2018. The Dutch finalises on the top of the Alto de las Allanadas a perfect management of his efforts and of racing strategy over the 5 kilometers-long devilish today’s final climb. Team Sky’s lieutenant wins over Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal). The belgian had been in the lead until the final 500 meters, when five men reeled in Wellens and Poels suddently launched a counter-attack overcoming all the competitors. The former sixth-finisher in the last Vuelta a Espana is also the new overall leader of the Spanish stage race.

Unlike yesterday, today’s menu has the 140-kilometer-long Otura – Alto de las Allanadas stage as dish of the day, a fraction with a harsh up-hill finish and whose course is nervous since the beginning. The group passes through a stressful first dozen of kilometers. In facts the tempo set by the front of the pack is very high and any breakaway can afford to open a gap. Finally a breakaway formed of nine riders ekes out an advantage over the group. Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Pascal EEnkhorn (Lotto Nl-Jumbo), Álvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini), Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Delko-Provence Marseille-KTM), Jeroen Meijers (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Aaron Verwilst (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Enrique Sanz (Euskadi-Murias) and Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH) are part of this effort.

The breakaway opens a wide gap since the beginning of the try and, with 63 kilometers remaining, the leaders sit 7’35” ahead the peloton. In the meantime the men in the breakaway played their cards on the KOMs and on the sprints: Cuadros took all the up-hill finishes, Verwilst won the first sprint whereas Sanz took the second one. Thanks to Astana and Team Sky’s tempo in front of the group, the peloton starts to jump across the gap and, with over 45 kilometers to go, the pack sits 4’ behind the break.

On the top of the Puerto de Valdepenas, today’s penultimate climb, things change in front of the race. As soon as he wins the KOM, Cuadros has a mechanical problem and shortly after Kasperkiewicz’s back tire is flat. In a matter of a handful of minutes other four riders drop from the lead, in which remain only Gougeard, Eenkhorn and Rubio with over 38 kilometers to go. The break’s advantage now hold on at 3’30”.

The gap starts to fade over when all Astana men, along the descent leading to la Guardia de Jaen, take on the front of the peloton settling a high pace. However, with 14 kilometers to go, the three leader have only faded a minute towards the group and sit 2’35” ahead the main pack. Eenkhorn loses contact from Gougeard and Rubio when the road ascends again and, on the bottom of the Alto de las Allanadas, the break sits 1’30” ahead the bunch.

While the peloton approaches the sloped of the final ascent with a devilish tempo, Gougeard cannot follow anymore the wheels of the Spaniard and so loses contact. With over 3 kilometers remaining, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) attacks and opens a little gap over the chasers. His try is not incisive, so Mikel Landa (Sky) and Tim Wellens can easily ride across the move. Wout Poels (Sky) bridges the gap and in the meantime Rubio is chased after 117 kilometers in the lead.

A seven-men group forms in the head of the race, from which Tim Wellens escapes as soon as one of the steepest parts of the climb appeases. The Belgian opens a 100 meters gap and keeps it until the last 600 meters. His advantage seems enough to maintain the lead on the finish line but, witn over 500 meters remaining, Poels surges to the fore and burn his matches with a sharp move. Anybody could bridge Poel’s attempt and in this way the Dutch wins stage 2 and gets the overall lead.

Vuelta a Andalucia Stage 2 Classification

1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky   3:38:04
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana    0:00:02
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal   ”
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team    0:00:04
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana    ”
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team    0:00:17
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky   0:00:27
8 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi-Murias 0:00:34
9 Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi    0:00:38
10 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal   ”

Vuelta a Andalucia Overall Classification

1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky    8:59:43
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana     0:00:02
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal    ”
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team    0:00:04
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana    ”
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team    0:00:17
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky    0:00:27
8 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi-Murias    0:00:34
9 Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi    0:00:38
10 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal    “

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