Pushed by a tailwind into a downhill run in, the Colombian took the win with a commanding sprint, dropping Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), leaving them to fend for the remaining podium positions.
Gaviria noted his team’s loss of three riders before the start of the stage due to coronavirus safety concerns, and how this affected the set up for the final push.
“It was a real shame to lose those three riders, especially Molano, who was a key leadout man,” Gaviria said. “That’s why we didn’t do any work today to control the breakaway. Because we were three riders less. So at the finish, we had to count on my legs and my luck. It turned out great and it’s an important victory for us.”
Before the stage 2 roll out, UAE-Team Emirates confirmed that Sebastian Molano, Cristian Munoz and Camilo Ardila did not start the second stage of the race.
Gaviria, commenting about racing and health regulations said, “It hasn’t changed so much in the race, but we have noticed differences at the hotel, and how we deal with the fans and how we deal with the media. We’re taking extra steps to keep everyone safe. Winning today is a big boost for morale. And after a long stop, it was important to make a victory today.”
Race leader Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) was safe near the front of the group across the line, and maintained his 8-second overall race lead.
“It was really nice today. I really enjoyed it. Big thanks to the team, they did a great job out there. In the end, they were really kept me in the front until the last 3km and nobody crashed,” Großschartner said. “It’s all good. We are happy. Tomorrow it is a pretty tough mountaintop finish, but the shape is good. We also have Rafal Majka in the team and we will try to do our best.”
With about 60 kilometers of racing to go in the relatively flat stage, a group of five which included Riccardo Verza (Kometa Xstra), Joel Nicolau (CajaRural-RGA Seguros), Ángel Fuentes (Burgos-BH), Alessandro Fedeli (Nippo Delko Provence), and Kiko Galván (Kern Pharma) were just over three minutes away from the peloton.
Deceuninck–Quick-Step’s Remco Evenepoel suffered a flat front tire while pursuing the leaders, but with an efficient wheel change was back in the peloton without giving up much time.
The break fractured at 27km to go, as three of five riders tried to go up the road, and were just 37 seconds ahead of the main bunch.
Over the next 10km, the remains of the break were reeled in, but no leadership was seen at the front of the relaxed-looking peloton.
Seeing an opportunity for sprinter Matteo Trentin, CCC took control of the race and briefly exchanged leadership duties with Mitchelton-Scott, and Deceuninck–Quick-Step through 5km remaining.
A single rider crashed near the front, near just inside of 500 meters, which appeared to gap Mark Cavendish (Bahrain-McLaren) from the group of sprinters.
Coming around a left bend into a downhill drag to the line, Gaviria lit up, with Demare, Bennett, and Trentin pursuing.
Thursday’s 150km stage 3 finale will turn upwards, with a mountain-top finish at Picón Blanco. This is a 7.8km climb at 9.3 percent average grade. A 15 percent uphill kicker will greet riders right into the finish.
Stage 2 results
1. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), 3:55:38
2. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ), at s.t.
3. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), at s.t.
4. Matteo Trentin (CCC Team), at s.t.
5. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), at s.t.
6. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), at s.t.
7. Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling), at s.t.
8. Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), at s.t.
9. Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), at s.t.
10. Mikel Aristi (Euskaltel-Euskadi), at s.t.