Vuelta Stage 2 Preview

A stage for the sprinters in a race with few sprinters? The big name sprinters are missing but many others will fancy their chances today.

Stage 1 Wrap: a win for Team Sky, milliseconds ahead of Movistar. Sky won and Movistar lost, the Spanish team tried to put Alejandro Valverde in front but the manoeuvring must have cost them time. The stage win is anecdotal, the more significant matter is the relative standings of the riders. Tinkoff and Cannondale were both 52 seconds down and Lampre-Merida were last meaning Louis Meintjes surrenders two minutes in one stage.

The Route: 160.8km and a ride to the coast in Baiona. The Alto de Fontefria is the climb of the day, 8.2km but just 3.2% and few other obstacles along the way but this is Galicia and the Vuelta and what looks like a gentle stage still has over 2,000 metres of vertical gain which is a lot for an easy day.

Remember there are time bonuses of 3-2-1 at the intermediate sprint in Vigo and then 10-6-4 on the finish line.

The Finish: fast and flat on a seafront esplanade.

The Contenders: a sprint finish only there are no big name sprinters in the race. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a sprint, teams like Trek-Segafredo will back Niccolò Bonifazio, Etixx-Quickstep for Gianni Meersman and Giant-Alpecin for Nikias Arndt each knowing that they might not have the world’s best sprinter but neither do their rivals so they might as well aim for a sprint. Ditto BMC Racing and Jean-Pierre “Jempy” Drucker, Orica-Greenedge for Magnus Cort Nielsen and IAM Cycling with Jonas Van Genechten. Among all these riders many would prefer a hillier, harder finish. Van Genechten and Arndt are the picks for a pure sprint but Meersman and Drucker seem to be the form picks.

The paucity of sprinters means fewer teams and less commitment to a sprint finish

Gianni Meersman, J-P Drucker
Niccolò Bonifazio, Nikias Arndt
Van Genechten, Sbaragli

Weather: warm and sunny with a top temperature of 26°C

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.40pm. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and for links to feeds and streams.

24 thoughts on “Vuelta Stage 2 Preview”

      • Not all of the smaller teams have lost two minutes, but most of them lost over a minute (basically, only Bora got within a minute, at 57 seconds).
        TTTs result in some riders – almost always on a smaller team – having a big disadvantage. That doesn’t make for good racing – usually (it might help the race that Contador has lost time, although it might not) – because someone like Meintjes is now all but out of contention.
        It’s a team sport, but the TTT has a disproportionate effect.

        • RE: Good Racing

          Sometimes a long and important TTT leads to teams taking an extra one or two flatlanders, making the mountain stages more open and less controlled. This is one of the many reasons why TTTs need to be pan flat.

        • Disagree. It’s a team sport, and that means bringing an actual team, not your leader plus 8 other 60kg climbing domestiques. For a lot of riders TTTs are their only real shot at standing on the podium as well.

        • With 9 riders per team, the big teams can easily afford to bring a group that has enough quality for both the TTT and the climbs. That can be seen in this TTT and others at grand tours.
          If teams were down to 7 then maybe a flat TTT would have an effect on the support a team leader might have in the mountains.

          • It doesn’t bother me. It can also work in your favour as it allows riders to get into breaks which GC teams would close down if they posed more of a threat. This leads to attacking riding rather than sitting on the wheels. Meintjes has yet to do much attacking and so it will be interesting to see if he does anything but sit on the wheels.

  1. Maybe a ‘sprinters stage’, but Galicia is a little like riding in the Massif Central with very little flat road to ease the legs, even close to the coast, resulting in a constantly demanding 161 km ride.

    It will be interesting to see who manages to win the sprint from amongst those IR predicts.

  2. My parents live very close to the finish so know the area quite well. Looks like they are going to have a bit of a climb a few k out before the finish, which isn’t tough at all, but the descent is very quick, wide roads. I would hope someone uses this as a launch pad, once they come of the the top especially as the road then narrows and there are plenty of roundabouts.

  3. look at those nine goofs in their baseball hats…. they look ridiculous….rapha should be embarrassed they make those stupid things….

  4. In a world without sprinters you also have to look at the likes of Stybar, Gilbert and Kwiatkowski for a stage like this. Either to mix it with the ‘sprinters’ (a world class punchuer is probably as good a sprinter as an average sprinter) or to take off in the last couple of k where any small lump might give a launchpad.

  5. Maybe this topic has already been addressed in a previous post. Just wanted to comment that Alberto’s chances are slim despite his quality. The team is dissolving and not even that strong. Let’s see what he can pull out of his hat.

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