BURGOS, Spain (VN) — Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) sprung to victory on an uphill kicker at the end of a hot, toiling day across the flats of northern Spain at the second stage of the Vuelta a Burgos.
The 24-year-old Belgian jumped with 200 meters to go to win for his first win in two seasons, holding off Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Dario Cataldo (Sky).
Keukeleire won easily, three trailing across the line, with Anthony Roux (FDJ.fr) taking fourth, but the Frenchman took the race leader’s jersey from Wednesday’s winner Simone Ponzi (Astana), who crossed the line fifth.
There was just enough gap from the fourth to fifth wheel, however, for race judges to mark the time difference at Roux. Ponzi led the main pack across the line, two seconds back.
An early breakaway pulled clear in the rolling stage, without any rated climbs, from Rua de Duero to Clunia. The peloton, led by Sky and Orica, kept the break on a short leash. The final stragglers were swept up inside 10 kilometers to the finale.
The final hump to the line featured a steady, low-grade climb, enough to put the screws to the bunch. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) jumped in the final kilometer, putting pressure on the peloton, but the Colombian couldn’t hold off them off.
Keukeleire’s win came on the same day the team announced he would stay with Orica through 2015.
“Once I got the offer to stay, it was an easy choice,” he said on the team’s website. “I have been really happy these past two years. For me, the most important thing is to be able to grow and to ride the type of program I want, and the team has always given me those opportunities.”
Behind the sprinters, all the main GC contenders finished in the Ponzi group to remain locked on time going into Thursday’s more challenging stage.
The 35th Burgos tour continues Friday with the 175km third stage, from Villadiego to Ojo Guareña. There are six rated climbs in the rollercoaster stage, including five-percent grades over the final kilometer.