Vuelta a España 2: Degenkolb gets sprint win

Castroviejo retains leader's jersey

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) won the second stage of the Vuelta a España, taking the mass sprint in Pamplona. Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEdge) and Ben Swift (Sky) took second and third. Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) easily defended his overall lead.

The young German came from third wheel with only meters left to go, nipping his two rivals at the line.

A three-man group stayed away for much of the day. Javier Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Javier Chacon (Andalucia) never had more than about a five-minute lead, and were caught again with 12km to go on the day.

The stage included the first mountain ranking and intermediate sprints, with Javier Chacon of Andalucia taking the race's first mountain jersey. Mihkail Ignatiev won the two sprints, but the points jersey went to stage winner Degenkolb.

John Degenkolb celebrates

Hot, hotter, hottest

One rider was missing at the start, Enrico Gasparotto of Astana. The Italian had crashed in the opening team trial and finished outside of the time limit. He would not have been able to start today anyway, as he also ended up with a triple collarbone fracture.

The word of the day was "hot", as temperatures quickly reached 39°C, and a strong wind often accompanied the peloton as well.

The day's escape group formed at about 6km, consisting of Javier Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Javier Chacon (Andalucia). Originally Niki Terpstra of Omega Pharma-QuickStep was with the group, but as the Dutch rider was only 10 seconds down on GC, Movistar, around race leader Castroviejo, didn't want to let him go. Within about five kilometers, he dropped back into the peloton.

That was the cue for the other three to really take off, and they built up a lead of about five minutes. Movistar kept an eye on them but let them go.

The stage had the first mountain ranking and the first intermediate sprints of this year's Vuelta. The climb was the category three Alto de la Chapela at 77km, with a modest 3.5 percent average gradient. Aramendia was the first over the top, but the jury spotted irregularities and awarded the points instead to Chacon, who thus took the first mountain jersey.

The stage had two intermediate sprints, both of which offered not only points but also bonus seconds. The first one, at 59km, went to Ignatiev ahead of Chacon and Aramendia.

The race ground on with the leaders holding on to their three minute or so lead. With some 30km to go and the gap by then under a minute, Chacon was the first to fade back.

Aramendia and Ignatiev fought on, and the Russian took the second intermediate sprint as well, at 18.9km. The peloton had still not really started a serious chase, but crossed the line 39 seconds later. And with 12km to go, the two were finally caught.

Things stayed together a while, until Vacansoleil's Sergey Lagutin took off with a bit more than 5km to go. The Uzbeki national champion wasn't able to get away though.

It was a rising run-in to the finish, and Ben Swift jumped for the lead, but he faded. Davis moved up for the victory, but Degenkolb pipped him at the last second to take his first Grand Tour stage win.

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