TOUR OF SPAIN (August 24 août – September 15)
Stage 2, Pontevedra-Alto do Monte da Groba (177,7 km)
Nicolas Roche of Saxo-Tinkoff claimed the first stage win of his career in a Grand Tour at the age of 29 as he sprinted to victory ahead of Dani Moreno (Katusha) and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) atop the spectacular Monte da Groba above Baiona on the south coast of Galicia. Crossing the line fourteen seconds later, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) took the lead over from his team-mate Janez Brajkovic.
Right after the flag off, Greg Henderson (Lotto-Belisol) initiated a three-man breakaway as he was rejoined by Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) and Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Sharp) whose team-mate Koldo Fernandez didn’t take the start due to the consequences of his crash during the inaugural team time trial on Saturday.
It was another beautiful day on the seaside of Galicia with everyone having the final climb of Monte da Groba in mind. The leading trio reached a maximum advantage of 12.48 at Ponteareas (km 82) where Rasmussen won the intermediate sprint. Then Lampre-Merida came in help alongside Astana at the head of the peloton. The gap was reduced to 1.30 at the bottom of the final climb with 12km to go. Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) counter attacked as soon as Rasmussen and Aramendia got reined in. Due to the high rhythm set by Movistar, the front group was reduced to fourty riders but didn’t include race favorites Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) and Sergio Henao (Team Sky) who got dropped and lost 2.41. Red jersey wearer Brajkovic lost contact with 1.5km to go.
Leopold König (NetApp-Endura) launched a brilliant attack. Only Moreno, Roche and Pozzovivo managed to make it across. The Italian tried his luck but was passed by Roche 500 metres before the finishing line.
Three years after winning the Vuelta in Madrid, Nibali will enjoy riding with the red jersey again during stage 3 from Vigo to Mirador de Lobeira (184.8 km).