Germany's Gerald Ciolek, riding for the Milram team, won the second stage of the Tour of Spain between Assen and Emmen on Sunday.
Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara of the Saxo Bank team, who won Saturday's first stage, retained the race leader's golden jersey, eight seconds ahead of the German with Belgian Tom Boonen in third a further 9 seconds adrift after finishing the stage in eighth spot.
Ciolek, a former under-23 world champion, won the 203km-long stage in 4hr 43min 12sec in a sprint ahead of Italian Fabio Sabatini and Briton Roger Hammond in front of a large crowd Dutch police estimated to number 200,000.
"My form is good. I felt great at the start with a good feeling of what was to come," said Ciolek. "There were lots of people lining the race. But it was a nervy stage that didn't really allow us to appreciate the incredible crowd."
The stage was marked by an early five-rider breakaway led by locals Tom Leezer and Lieuwe Westra, along with German Dominik Roels and the Spanish duo of Martinez Perez and David Garcia da Pena.
Leezer, who rides for Rabobank, claimed the first jersey for best climber after heading the peloton through the Relus te Beek, which stands at an altitude of 15 metres in the largely flat countryside here.
The breaway built up a seven-minute advance by the halfway stage. All but Westra were reeled back in with 20km to go to the line, the Dutch rider lasting through to closer to the finish.
Some of the big names in the race dropped off the pace in the final kilometres, when a breakdown and crash both occurred, Spaniard Samuel Sanchez, Luxembourg brothers Frank and Andy Schleck, and Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov all losing 18 valuable seconds.
Monday's third stage between Zupthen and Venlo, still in the Netherlands, will be another sprinter-friendly flat course over 189km, with the riders also making a slight detour into Germany to underline the truly European credentials of this year's edition of La Vuelta.
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© AFP & Cyclingnews.com 2009