Vuelta a España Stage 2 Preview

Flat? Yes. But featureless this is not as the race takes the coastal road past many of France’s best wind and kitesurfing spots and the wind is forecast to blow meaning this will be part bike race, part sailing regatta.

Stage 1 Review: BMC Racing won and put Rohan Dennis in the red jersey, a scripted scenario. All the teams were within one minute so the comparatively poor performances by the likes of Astana, UAE Emirates and Ag2r La Mondiale are not ruinous for the coming weeks.

The Route: flat, coastal and exposed. The race does head inland late but the terrain is flat and dominated by the monoculture of vineyards meaning the little shelter from the wind.

The Finish: a fast finish in the sprawling seaside resort of Gruissan with a risky roundabout in the final kilometre. It’s not wild but the chicanery will reward the teams able to line out the bunch in order to place their riders in pole position.

The Contenders: this should be a sprint finish although the coastal crosswind could help reduce the size of the peloton. The forecast winds are moderate, enough to make things diagonal but hardly Gent-Wevelgem 2015 again.

John Degenkolb is the fastest sprinter on paper in the race and a prime pick. His Trek-Segafredo team mate Edward Theuns is fast too and we’ll if Theuns leads out “Dege” or vice versa or both get a crack. UAE Emirates Sacha Modolo isn’t prolific but has taken multiple stage wins in the Giro and has few superiors today.

Quick Step’s Matteo Trentin is quick but would prefer a hillier course, the same for Magnus Cort Nielsen who came good in this race last year. J-J Lobato has found winning ways again after going Dutch with Lotto-Jumbo. Lotto-Soudal’s Jens Debusschere isn’t a frequent winner but has the brute force needed, the same for Cofidis’s Jonas Van Genechten.

John Degenkolb, Sacha Modolo
Matteo Trenin, Jens Debusschere
Van Genechten, Theuns, Cort Nielsen, Lobato, Blythe, Van Asbroeck

Weather: warm, sunny and a top temperature of 30°C with an offshore breeze that will vary from 20km/h to 40km/h at times and if it’s sustainably 40km/h then the bunch can be split by teams exploiting this.

TV: It’s on La1 in Spain and Eurosport around much of the world and often on the same broadcaster you watch the Tour de France on. Tune in for final hour for the crosswinds and the finish is forecast for 5.40pm CEST.

Daily Díaz: the second day of the race and the finish line will still be over 100 km from the Spanish border. Narbonne (Narbona in Occitan) is worth a visit, with its unfinished Gothic cathedral, the scenic Canal de la Robine and the Roman heritage all over the place. Gruissan is about 15 km away, though, on the other side of the calcareous Massif de la Clape, which is said to be a small cycling paradise. If you want to know more about the area, and practise your Spanish, I recommend you listen to this podcast:

Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel

21 thoughts on “Vuelta a España Stage 2 Preview”

  1. Obvious point but most of the teams with a fastman such as Trek, Orica and Quickstep also have a GC rider, so can’t see a lot of them working hard to reel in a breakaway and/or pull back a non-threatening echelon, they’ll be saving their legs for the hills.

  2. I wonder whether the lack of big sprinters means that less teams will work on bringing a break back. It could be like that. Or maybe there will be a lot of teams that would never be able to win a sprint in the Tour, who will now put in extra work to get that Grand Tour sprint win. We’ll see how it plays out.

  3. Unless the wind amounts to more than a strong sea breeze this should be a pretty straight forward if nervous day for the GC contenders. If the wind does blow then Sky / Quick Step / Sunweb are probably the favourites to shake things up and there must be a chance of a contender loosing considerable time especially if they have a fairly weak team. As to the sprinters, there is a distinctly B team feel. Given his recent form I might be inclined to go with Edward Theuns but it feels much more open than is normally in a GT sprint. Might even see someone go from a few kms out.

  4. I will be lucky to watch any cycling on Eurosport’s new Player revamp! What a load of sh*** a six year old could have made a better job.

    • Also, with the new Eurosport Player app it seems you’re forced to have your device’s GPS active so your position is known to Eurosport. This way they bloc you from watching Eurosport Player in an other country, through a vpn-tunnel, in a language you may prefer. This is bad news. Does anyone know how to get around this obstacle?

    • And they’ve got rid of the option to rewind by 3 hours – so you can’t watch the live race in he evening. The ‘on demand’ videos seem to take less than the previous ~24 hours to go up, though (although you have to click ‘repeat’ to avoid going to all videos and have them tell you the result), but there is no way you can rely on them to do this – previously, some races have never been put up on the ‘on demand’ section.
      After years of subscribing, this is the final straw (I’ve had so many problems with it) and I’m going to cancel after the Vuelta. They’ve finally managed to get me to watch the pirate streams. That way I can listen to non-British commentary as well and avoid Kirby.

      Back to today, who is Degenkolb going to clout if he loses?

      • Finally got to live coverage of Stage 2 on Eurosport Player and glad to find the “No commentary” option still available thank the lord. Agree with above, the new layout and navigation is something of a dogs dinner! or “progress” as it is more commonly termed.

    • After generations of systemic doping, and now we’re expected to tolerate this.
      Can I suggest we start a support group for cycling’s long-suffering fans?

        • I was wondering what went wrong with my Eurosport Player.
          Is that it, kaput?
          What’s the point of that, most of the way through the season?

          • I guess it’s cause Eurosport bought rights for German Bundesliga, and there are now matchdays you can only watch on Eurosport, no more freetv no more Sky, via the player, unless you don’t buy expensive packets from cable providers.
            So they sell a lot of player subscriptions to new customers here and had to build a new player software for the channel “Eurosport2+HD”. I don’t know if it was technically really necessary, but the start of Bundesliga was this weekend and it should be no coincidence that the player changed right now.

    • The biggest Eurosport Player issue is why the pq on Firestick is so bad vs the PC player.

      I think the picture quality on PC is superior to most pirate cycling streams though and more stable.

  5. What a great blog! Read a couple of articles and I must say it is very well written! I am a cycling amateur and cycling shop owner and I will keep reading your content.

  6. There’s something about the Vuelta that feels a bit second hand. This isn’t a criticism from me but an observation. I think its because no one actually starts the season with La Vuelta as their season target so its all a bit B Team and make do and mend. Its a shame because the race has a character and excitement all its own and in terms of sheer unpredictability (which sports fans generally say is what they want if asked) its by far the best of the three grand tours. Virtually every day we are not going to know who might win and we’ll no doubt get a few surprises. But the best of the best it is not and even in the GC battle we have contenders in varying states of form and fitness. Let’s send them up lots of rampas inhumanas and see what shakes loose! Crazy race!

    • This is a problem I’ve mentioned before that makes cycling stand apart. Most sports have a season that builds towards some kind of climax, either a final of some sort in most ball sports, or an end of season trophy or the such for others. In cycling the biggest event of the season happens half way through, which has the effect of making everything else feel like a bit of an afterthought. This isn’t to say the TDF is the pinnacle of racing, from a sporting perspective it’s been the dullest of the three grand tours for years now, but in terms of profile both within and without the peloton, that’s just the way it is.

    • That is what makes La Vuelta stand out.

      A bit of last chance casino, mixed in with guys attempting Vuelta on top of Giro success, add a smattering of a futures race and top it off with a climbers parcours. It always makes for great unpredictable racing.

      Unless you prefer the dull parade that is the Tour de France

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