Vuelta a Espana: Nacer Bouhanni wins stage two as Alejandro Valverde takes race lead
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 25/08/14 11:21am
Nacer Bouhanni sprinted to victory on stage two of the Vuelta a Espana as Alejandro Valverde moved into the overall race lead.
Bouhanni capitalised on a textbook lead-out from his FDJ.fr team to comfortably beat John Degenkolb into second and Roberto Ferrari into third in San Fernando.
Following their win on stage one’s team time trial, seven Movistar riders started the day on the same time at the top of the general classification, but Valverde now takes over from Jonathan Castroviejo in the leader's red jersey after being the first of them to cross the finish line.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton in 17th place to remain 27 seconds off the pace, while fellow Briton Adam Yates climbs to tenth overall, six seconds back.
Bouhanni, who claimed the first Vuelta stage win of his career, said afterwards: “We worked very hard for this. In the last moment we were in a great position. It’s a great day, not only for me, but for all of my team. You have got to take your chances when you can. To get a win on the Vuelta is great. Maybe I will win a couple more.”
Valverde, who won the Vuelta in 2009, said: "To be honest, it wasn't on the plan that I took the leader's jersey, but the finish was really nervous and difficult and we had to ride up front, trying not to lose any time into splits or crashes.
"I hadn't even realised I had become the GC leader. It's always nice to take the leader's jersey and I'm happy about this. It's great to be ahead of other rivals."
Stage two took the riders on a largely flat 174.4km route along the south coast of Spain in hot and sunny conditions, and although a four-man breakaway built up a lead of five minutes, the last of them was caught with just over 15km remaining.
Giant fall away
Conscious of keeping their leaders safe, the general classification teams moved to the front of the peloton and didn’t drop back until they were inside the last 3km, at which point the sprint squads took over.
Bouhanni’s FDJ.fr lined up alongside Degenkolb’s Giant-Shimano at the head of the race, but Giant’s lead-out train then disintegrated when they took the outside line on a tight right-hand turn and everyone but Degenkolb fell away.
Bouhanni, by contrast, still had two men with him entering the final straight and had the luxury of waiting until 120m to go to launch his decisive sprint. Degenkolb fought back valiantly but was unable to make up the ground and had to settle for second.
Bouhanni’s win saw him move to the top of the points classification, while Nathan Haas took the lead of the mountains classification after being first to the summit of the day’s only climb.
Stage two result
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr, 4:01:30
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano, same time
3 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
4 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing, st
5 Francesco Lasca (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, st
6 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale, st
7 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
8 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
9 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin, st
10 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling, st
17 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, same time
3 Andrey Amador (Cos) Movistar, st
4 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar, st
5 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar, st
6 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar, st
7 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale, +6
8 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, st
9 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale, st
10 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEdge, st