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With a powerful surge on the final climb, Chaves caught Dumoulin, Roche and Quintana, dropped the latter two and finally beat the Dutchman in the sprint to win stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana; the Colombian is the overall leader

Photo: Delmati










23.08.2015 @ 18:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) confirmed that he is destined for a great future when he beat all the grand tour stars in the summit finish at the Vuelta a Espana. With a powerful attack on the final climb, he bridged across to earlier attackers Nicolas Roche (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and after he had dropped the former two, he beat the Dutchman in the sprint to take the stage win and the leader’s jersey.


When he won the Tour de l’Avenir, Esteban Chaves proved that he has the potential to become of the greatest climbers but a dramatic crash at the 2013 Trofeo Laigueglia meant that his career was under threat. Impressively, he fought his way back to the pointy end of the races in his first year at the WorldTour level and even won stages in both the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse last year.


Chaves also got his first taste of grand tour racing and rode an impressive first week of the Vuelta until he faded dramatically in the second half. This year he is back in the Spanish race with an eye on the overall standings again and based on his opening performance he is ready to challenge the grand tour stars.


With a dominant display, Chaves turned out to be the strongest in the second stage of the race which already offered the first uphill finish. A powerful attack allowed him to bridge the gap to a strong trio that contained Nairo Quintana and he even managed to drop the Movistar captain before he beat Tom Dumoulin in a two-rider sprint.


Chaves proved his intentions when he asked his teammates Cameron Meyer and Jens Keukeleire to hit the front when a 100-rider peloton sped towards the bottom of the final 4.7km climb. Everybody was fighting hard for position but the Colombian was in perfect position behind his two teammates.


Meyer swung off and left it to Keukeleire to set the early pace until Jay McCarthy took over for Tinkoff-Saxo. He didn’t respond when Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and just continued to ride on the front while the Frenchman dangled a few metres ahead.


While race leader Peter Velits (BMC) was among the many riders to get dropped, Alberto Losada hit the front for Katusha and kept Gautier under control until Quintana launched a surprise attack. Nicolas Roche easily shut it down for Sky but the action brought Gautier back.


Dumoulin made an immediate counterattack while Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) took off in pursuit. Roche was leading the chase but unintentionally he and Quintana made it up to Meintjes while everybody was looking at each other in the main group.


The three chasers caught Dumoulin while Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) started to chase in the peloton. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) took over and nearly had caught the front quartet when he swung off.


Quintana rode hard and managed to reopen the advantage while Meintjes was dropped. Meanwhile, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who had been involved in an earlier crash and spent a lot of energy, was dropped from the peloton which was down to just 15 riders.


Fabrice Jeandesboz (Europcar) used the hesitation to attack before Chaves and Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) made their move. They passed Meintjes and Jeandesboz but Martin was unable to follow the Colombian who joined the front group.


Chaves went straight past the leaders but Roche brought it back together. As the Colombian continued to ride hard on the front, Quintana cracked and left just a trio in front.


Roche was clearly suffering while the peloton was not cooperating losing ground. Hence, it was a big gap when Chaves led the leaders under the flamme rouge.


The Colombian didn’t get any help and as the game of cat and mouse started, it briefly looked like Quintana would get back. However, he lost his progress when Roche launched the first attack.


Chaves brought it back together while Martin passed the fading Quintana. Moments later the Orica-GreenEDGE rider launched his first attack which was too much for Roche who fell behind.


Chaves continued to ride on the front until he accelerated again with 200m to go. Dumoulin tried to pass him before he sat up and shook his head, rolling across the line in second behind the triumphant Chaves. Roche took third while Martin was next.


Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) had made a late attack to catch Quintana, with the pair losing 26 seconds. Chris Froome (Sky) lost 30 seconds, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha) following one second later. Fabio Aru (Astana) was 37 seconds behind in 10th while Nibali lost more than a minute.


With the win, Chaves also takes the leader’s jersey with a 5-second advantage over Dumoulin. He will try to defend that position in tomorrow’s third stage which should be one for the sprinters. However, there are two big climbs in the first half before the race descends to the final 60km which are flat, apart from a small bump with around 10km to go that could prove to be too hard for some of the fast guys.


The first uphill finish

There was no easy introduction to the Vuelta a Espana as the first real stage was a hilly 158.7km run from Alhaurin de la Torre to Caminito del Rey. The first two thirds were made up of rolling terrain and then there was a small category 3 climb with 45km to go. A flat section led to the final 4.7km category 3 climb which averaged 6.5% and led to the finish.


It was hot day in Spain when the riders gathered for the start. All riders who finished yesterday’s stage were present as they rolled out for their neutral ride.


Pelucchi abandons

With the hilly terrain, it was no surprise that the stage got off to an extremely fast start with lots of attacks and it took time for the early break to be formed. Meanwhile, Rodriguez had to spend some energy to rejoin the bunch after a mechanical.


Things were still together after 14km of fast racing and Matteo Pelucchi (IAM) was already suffering at the back. Things didn’t get any easier as he went down in a crash with 20km to go and even though he got bac on his bike, he would later abandon.


Six riders get clear

Finally, the elastic snapped when Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Davide Villella (Cannondale-Garmin), Walter Pedraza (Colombia), Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural) and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r) took off. The peloton slowed down and so the gap was already 2.15 at the 25km mark where Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep) rejoined the peloton after a mechanical.


The gap reached a maximum of 3.40 at the 30km mark before Movistar took control with Rory Sutherland and Imanol Erviti. The slowly brought the gap down to 3.07 at the end of the first hour.


Talansky goes down

At the 50km mark, the gap was only 2.55 and from here Sutherland and Erviti kept it around the 3-minute mark for a long time. Meanwhile, David Tanner (IAM), Zico Waeytens (Giant-Alpecin), Andrew Talansky and Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin) rejoined the peloton after a crash.


Kenny Elissonde had plenty of time to receive medical assistance while Montaguti rejoined the break after a puncture. Moments later, they entered the feed zone with an advantage of 2.42.


Katusha come to the fore

This was the signal for Katusha to kick into action as Gatis Smukulis started to trade pulls with Erviti and Sutherland. They slowly brought the gap down to 2.15 by the time they hit the bottom of the first climb with 50km to go.


Pedraza launched the sprint and managed to narrowly hold Villella and Lindeman off while the peloton rolled slowly up the ascent. As soon as they hit the descent, Smukulis, Erviti and Sutherland started to accelerate and they had brought the gap down to 1.45 with 35km to go.


A big crash

With 30km to go, the riders approached narrower roads and this made the peloton very nervous. A huge crash happened near the front and brought the race to an end for both Tanner and Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida). Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) were also involved and would never rejoin the peloton.


More importantly, Nibali had gone down and even though he was unhurt, it took a long time for him to get back on his bike. Diego Rosa, Alessandro Vanotti and Dario Cataldo waited for him but he was already 1.30 behind the peloton which was led by Vasil Kiryienka (Sky).


Goncalves takes off

As they had hit the narrow roads, Sky left the front and left it to Tiago Machado, Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) and Erviti set the pace. The latter two quickly disappeared and instead Javier Moreno started to work for Movistar.


Goncalves attacked from the front group and managed to distance his rivals. However, he was just 1.15 ahead as he started the final 25km.


Desperate chase for Nibali

Only around 50 riders were left in the peloton after the crash but more riders made it back with 20km to go. However, Nibali was still far behind and in desperate chase mode.


Just before the intermediate sprint, the five chasers were caught and so Valverde could beat Rodriguez to pick up two bonus seconds after Goncalves had won the sprint. At this point, Nibali dropped his teammates and was on his own until Andrey Zeits waited for him.


Nibali makes it back

Riders were constantly dropped from the peloton as Moreno ended his work and left it to Machado and Vicioso to set the pace. Moments later, Zeits brought Nibali back to the caravan from where the Italian bridged the final part of the gap on his ow.


With 10km to go, it was over for Goncalves and everybody was fighting for position behind the two Katusha riders. With 8km to go, Movistar took over with Jose Joaquin Rojas and when he swung off, Andrey Amador took over. He set the pace until Orica-GreenEDGE kicked into action with 6km to go, setting the scene for Chaves’ victory.



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