Andrea Kron (Lotto-Dstny) launched a blistering attack on the steepest slopes of the Montjuic climb, fighting off a large group of perseguidores for 4 km to ride to victory on the treacherously slippery roads of Barcelona.
After question marks were raised over yesterday’s torrential downpour during the team time trial, and further concerns about the forecast voiced by the likes of Remco Evenepoel before today’s stage, the General Classification times were taken with 9 km to go.
It proved a sensible decision, as the crash-riddled day in less-than-ideal conditions led to the main GC teams reaching an agreement long before the 9 km cut-off to ease the pace to reduce the risk.
The conditions in the final stretch were even more dangerous, as the narrow, bendy course littered with leaf mulch was deemed too dangerous to allow full-blown GC racing.
However, a lengthy four-man breakaway stole the show prior to the neutralization, as Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-Easypost) soared into the red jersey as the breakaway crossed the 9 km mark with around a 20-second margin.
The Italian was left in the dark about the GC standings for over 20 minutes due to an ill-defined 9 km mark leading to confusion about the time gap at the de facto finish line.
Triumph for the breakaway in crash-marred stage
The breakaway – which included Javier Romo, Andrea Piccolo, Matteo Sobrero, and Joel Nicolau – took off after just five minutes of racing and sustained and extended their time gap over the whole course of the race.
Their breakaway success resulted in all of the available KOM and intermediate sprint points being distributed among the four riders.
Although today’s weather appeared to be a little drier than expected, it quickly deteriorated as the peloton approached Barcelona, with the entire final 50 km of the race exposed to another torrential downpour.
Despite the clearly impressive feat of a 170 km breakaway success, part of the reason for such success was due to the peloton’s and perseguidores‘ cautiousness due to the dangerous conditions.
This caution was easily justified by the sheer volume of crashes that had befallen the riders, occurring at nearly every roundabout or sharp bend, and hitting high-profile riders such as Geraint Thomas, Primož Roglič, and the red jersey Lorenzo Milesi.
It was not a day to remember for Milesi, as his crash resulted in the young Italian finishing minutes after the rest of the bunch and losing the red jersey by a significant margin.
Even the new red jersey, Andrea Piccolo, was hit by a crash but managed to recover quickly and rejoin the breakaway.
However, others were not so lucky, as DSM’s Oscar Onley was forced to abandon the race after a nasty crash left him with a suspected broken collarbone.
When the chase began to heat up, GC teams Soudal-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma sensibly requested that the peloton reduce the pace to reduce the crash risk.
Although many of the other teams – including DSM and Ineos – initially refused, they managed to reach an agreement long before the 9 km GC cut-off.
The chaos from today’s and yesterday’s racing in dangerous conditions has sparked controversy surrounding the organizers’ apparent lack of concern for rider safety, however, the GC riders themselves did a good job of damage control by slowing their pace.
“I want to dedicate this victory to Tijl De Decker”
Andrea Kron pointed to the sky as he crossed the line, paying tribute to his late teammate Tijl de Decker who tragically passed away after a training crash on Wednesday.
“The team is going through a really difficult time [after the death of de Decker]”, Kron said after finishing.
Despite the controversy surrounding conditions, it was an extremely impressive attack on the steep 10% slopes of Montjuic by Kron, in what turned out to be a deserved victory for the Danish Lotto-Dstny rider.
Vuelta a España 2023: Stage 2 Results
1. KRON Andreas (Lotto Dstny)
2. GROVES Kaden (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
3. VENDRAME Andrea (AG2R Citroën Team)
4. BAGIOLI Andrea (Soudal – Quick Step)
5. BARCELÓ Fernando (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA)
6. GARCÍA CORTINA Iván (Movistar Team)
7. GRÉGOIRE Romain (Groupama – FDJ)
8. VAN EETVELT Lennert (Lotto Dstny)
9. VAN DEN BERG Marijn (EF Education-EasyPost)
10. GOOSSENS Kobe (Intermarché – Circus – Wanty)
Vuelta a España 2023: General Classification Standings after Stage 2
1. PICCOLO Andreas (EF Education-Easypost) 4:27:23
2. ROMO Javier (Astana-Qazqstan Team) +0:11
3. GARCÍA CORTINA Iván (Movistar Team) +0:13
4. BARDET Romain (Team dsm – firmenich) +0:13
5. POOLE Max (Team dsm – firmenich) +0:13
6. OLIVEIRA Nelson (Movistar Team) +0:13
7. ERVITI Imanol (Movistar Team) +0:13
8. MAS Enric (Movistar Team) +0:13
9. RUBIO Einer Augusto (Movistar Team) +0:13
10. FLYNN Sean (Team dsm – firmenich) +0:13
Vuelta a España Jerseys after Stage 2
Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-Easypost)
Andreas Kron (Lotto – Dstny)
Matteo Sobrero (Jayco – AlUla)
Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-Easypost)
Stage 2 Combativity Award Winner
Andreas Kron (Lotto-Dstny)