Throwing attack after attack, Marc Soler (Movistar) separated himself from the lead group on the final descent, with 13 kilometers of racing remaining in stage 2 of the 2020 Vuelta a España.
While Soler has previously won Paris-Nice, this is his first Vuelta a España victory.
“It’s my first win in a grand tour, and I am very, very happy. Everyone on the team deserves this after so much work in such a complicated season. I can only thank everyone on the team and to those who’ve supported me during all this time. I’m very happy. We were racing on home roads, and we were motivated to race here in Navarra.”
George Bennett and Sepp Kuss neutralized Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) main GC rivals on the second day of the truncated Spanish grand tour.
How stage 2 unfolded
Starting under overcast skies, the second day of the Spanish grand tour traveled through Team Movistar’s home region.
By the time the race hit 40 kilometers to go, Chris Froome (Ineos Grenadiers) had again been distanced from the front of the race.
A five-man break which had been away for most of the day was in sight at 33km to go, and caught just 5km later on the rolling hills leading into the day’s final, challenging climb.
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) was in position to move, at the front with Enric Mas (Movistar), shadowed Roglič.
UAE Team Emirates, Ineos Grenadiers, and Movistar were en bloc pushing pace at the start of the 12km climb.
Tom Dumolain (Jumbo-Visma) was shed at 7km remaining of the ascent when Luis León Sánchez (Astana) lifted the pace, leaving only Sepp Kuss to protect the overall race leader.
Soler responded to Sánchez’s move, using this as a prelude to his race-winning attack on the descent.
As Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) is shed from the front group, Carapaz and Mas attack, forcing Sepp Kuss in the KOM leader’ jersey to chase.
With the result over the top, Carapaz took over the lead of the climbing competition.
Carapaz, in second overall, commented, “In the end it was a very nervous stage, we had some crosswinds, but thanks to the team, we got through the day without any setbacks. I’m pretty happy with how I am riding because these stages are already decisive, and the Vuelta is only beginning.”
This surge was quickly followed by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), but the damage by Soler had already been done, as he had escaped over the summit.
The group chased after Soler, but the lead the Spaniard established on the descent remained in the closing kilometers.
Seeing an opportunity to gain valuable bonus seconds for a podium finish, Roglič attacked the chase group in the final 100m, crossing the line in second place.
In explaining the tactics for stage 2, Soler said, “Together with the sport directors we had a plan before the stage, and we wanted to play our cards from the Urbasa climb. We started pulling there, and from there to the finish, things went off just perfectly. Arcas, Imanol, Nelson, and Rojillas set the pace on the flats, and later Carlos was setting tempo on the lower part of the climb, and I tried to keep things going.”