Stage 2 of La Vuelta a Espana was won by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors)
The second stage of La Vuelta started in Marbella and progressed to Caminito Del Rey. The stage got underway with a category two climb, one of four categorized climbs of the stage. A break of seven riders went clear early on in the day. Of the break, Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) and Pierre Rolland (EF-Education First) remained in front well into the business end of the stage.
Once the break was brought back, Sky led the peloton into the final finishing climb of the stage at a high speed, which caused the peloton to fracture as the group made their way up Alto de la Mesa. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was looking to protect Louis Meintjes, with the goal of not conceding time in the GC. Secondary to our GC ambitions, Merhawi Kudus was given the freedom to target a stage result.
The high pace set by Team Sky whittled the main group down significantly and didn’t allow for any attacks until the final 1.5km of the stage. Meintjes and Kudus were part of the 35 rider group coming into the finale but it was Valverde that got the jump on the group, beating Kwiatkowski to the line.
A few splits in the final 300m saw some time gaps given, but Meintjes and Kudus limited the time to just seconds. Our duo of climbers both leaped up the overall GC as a result of finishing among the main contenders.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
Our goal today was to ensure Louis finished with the other main favourites. We knew it would be a slightly bigger group arriving at the line with Sky controlling for Kwiatkowski to take the jersey. We gave Merhawi the nod to go for the stage if the opportunity presented itself, but it didn’t turn out to be an option today. In the end it was only a handful seconds we had to give away, so we can be content with how we got through today’s stage.