The second stage of the 2020 Vuelta a España saw both minor and major changes to the overall standings with several riders with slim hopes of mounting a challenge and slipping out of contention entirely, while those at the top of the classifications fought over bonus seconds after another enthralling stage won by Marc Soler (Movistar).
Both Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) lost considerable time on the stage and the Dutchman’s faint podium chances are over after he was dropped on the final climb of San Miguel de Aralar. He now trails his teammate and race leader Primož Roglič by 9:08. Martin finished in the same time as Dumoulin, but was dropped even earlier after Movistar put the hammer down in the second half of the stage and split the race in the crosswinds.
The Cofidis rider and his team attempted the limit their losses but with few allies in the chase group they soon ran out of firepower and eventually sat up. Martin now sits one place behind Dumoulin in 29th and at 9:25.
Astana’s only GC rider left in the frame, Gorka Izagirre, dropped one place to 14th while the surprise package from stage 1 Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) fell from fifth to ninth, and now lies 59 seconds down on Roglič.
Further up the standings and the changes were significantly smaller. Roglič won the sprint for second and claimed six bonus seconds as a result, while Dan Martin’s Grand Tour resurrection for Israel Start-Up Nation continued with third place and four seconds as a bonus. That was enough to help the Irishman leapfrog Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) into second overall. Roglič now leads Martin by nine seconds, with Carapaz a further two seconds down.
Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott), Enric Mas (Movistar), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) occupy fourth to eighth, respectively, with only the bonus seconds at the line altering their time deficits.
The climb of San Miguel de Aralar offered a second glimpse as to how the rest of the race might unfold. Roglič was keen to mark wheels on the climb, but Kuss was utilized with the American attacking in a bid to both draw out and eliminate possible rivals. Carapaz attacked off the front even before the climb began but was active on the ascent, too. He was the first to respond to Kuss, and although he could not escape the clutches of Movistar or Jumbo-Visma, he looks a genuine threat to Roglič’s crown. The 2019 Giro d’Italia winner might be slightly concerned by the lack of teammates he had on a relatively short climb but he handled himself well and will relish the longer ascents that are still to come.
Movistar’s display was at odds with many of their recent displays in that they were both aggressive and decisive. The efforts in the crosswinds split the race and they carried out almost all of the pace-setting on the final climb. Soler was key to that, and even when he was briefly distanced near the summit, he had enough in the tank to catch the leaders and then quickly counter.
With Valverde and Mas marking wheels the onus was on Jumbo-Visma to chase but their pursuit was unable to catch Soler, who on this evidence looks back to his best. The Spaniard has moved into 10th overall, one place ahead of Valverde, and at 1:04 behind Roglič the Movistar team look well-placed as they aim to challenge Jumbo-Visma’s dominance.
Martin’s second place comes after another measured performance. Unlike on stage 1, the Irishman opted to follow rather than go on the attack, but his ride demonstrated that the GC is a realistic aim after an injury-hit summer. Hugh Carthy was briefly distanced on the final climb but made contact on the descent and is now EF Pro Cycling’s only GC card for the rest of the week, while Chaves has started the Vuelta in fine form.
The main conclusions from stage 2 are that the GC riders have reinforced who has the form to win and who hasn’t; Jumbo-Visma and Movistar have the strongest ensembles; there’s little to split the main contenders.