Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) made it a hatrick of victories when he won stage 2 of the Ruta Del Sol. Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural) was 2nd while Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) rounded out the podium in 3rd.
While a 7 man escape went clear early on in the stage, Movistar kept the escapees in check setting a hard tempo for the majority of the day. They were eventually reeled in just before the race hit the slopes of the final category 1 climb.
Team Sky assumed control of the race as soon as the break was caught and set a relentless pace up the final mountain, whittling the peloton down to just 20 riders with 4km to go. Sergio Pardilla from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung was part of this select group and looked comfortable for the majority of the ascent. Pardilla was with the front runners up until 900m to go before he faded slightly to end 22 seconds down on Valverde, in 13th place.
Pardilla spoke at length after the stage. “Today was really hard because there was not a level meter of road. We were going fast all day because Movistar was working hard on the front all the way to the climb. Then Sky took responsibility of the race on the climb,” Pardilla explained.
“The team did a great job to protect me and deliver me to the front positions before the final climb. I am satisfied with my result and even though I am not in my best condition yet I can feel I am getting better with each day. The presence of my fan club on the final climb was really exciting and also a great help,” Pardilla said. “Tomorrow will be an important day for us because we have a very good opportunity for a victory with Ciolek,” Pardilla concluded.
Directeur Sportif, Manel Lacambra was happy with the day’s proceedings. “In general I am happy about today’s stage because the team was working well together by protecting Sergio. Then Sergio did a great race. It is only the start of the season and he doesn’t have top form but was still fighting with the top riders.”
“Over the next days we will continue to fight for a podium finish. The most important factor is that the team is going better day by day, this will help us to take confidence into the next races,” Lacambra added.
The Ruta Del Sol continues with the 182km stage from Sanlucar Le Mayor to Sevilla tomorrow. With this stage being the only one that favours the sprinters, we could expect a bunch sprint.
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (Spain) – (February 19 – 23/UCI 2.1)
Sergio Pardilla (ESP)
Linus Gerdemann (GER)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI)
Jaco Venter (RSA)
Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)
Andreas Stauff (GER)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Staff: Manel Lacambra (Sports Director), Bastian Buffel (Soigneur), Nico Beyens (Soigneur), Daniella Nieri (Mechanic), Jim Bryan (Mechanic), Stevie Christaens (Mechanic)