Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quickstep) won the 2nd stage of the Vuelta a Espana, beating Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Argon) and Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-BikeExchange) in a crashed marred sprint finish. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had Kristian Sbaragli finish in 6th place.
Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana was marked down as one of the only clear sprint stages of this year’s race and so there was very little chance that the peloton would allow a break to stay clear today. Three riders would still try their luck though but as the peloton only let them reach a maximum lead of 2’30”, a sprint finish was inevitable.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was going all in for Kristian Sbaragli today and the team rode well as a unit, near the front of the peloton all day. Phillipe Gilbert (BMC Racing) attacked with 38km to go and bridged the gap to the 3 early leaders but that only sparked the chase from behind and with 15km to go, the race was all together.
Nic Dougall and Jaco Venter played a key role in positioning our fast guys going into the final 10km before Nathan Haas and Tyler Farrar were tasked with delivering Sbaragli to the line. With 3km to go, Haas was driving the peloton when a big crash took out a number of contenders. Sbaragli and Farrar were well placed though and clear of the carnage. Haas completed an impressive turn just before the 1km to go kite and then Farrar took over.
The final few hundred meters gently bent to the left and the blind sprint made it difficult to time your effort. Sbaragli was caught up against the barrier and started his sprint a little late, but it was still enough to finish in 6th place on the stage. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) took over the overall race lead from his teammate, Peter Kennaugh.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
Today was the first sprint and the team worked pretty well to stay out of trouble in the final. I just found myself in the wrong position with 600m to go. When I started the sprint I was a bit late, I’m pretty disappointed with this result. The good thing is that last year I was 6th in the first sprint and then I went on to win a stage so maybe it is good luck. We can do better but I must say thanks to all the guys, something good is coming because we are working well together and we have a lot of chances coming.