Marc Soler took a solo victory on stage two of the Vuelta a España 2020 after another hard day of climbing. The victory is Movistar’s first in the WorldTour this season, and their first in any race since February when Soler won in the Challenge Mallorca.
Soler attacked on the final descent to victory after rejoining the lead group which had dropped him on the climb after the Spaiard worked hard for his leaders.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) sprinted to second place, extending his overall lead thanks to taking six bonus seconds on the line.
Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) took third place in the sprint and four bonus seconds just ahead of Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers).
How it happened
The race started in the city of Pamplona and the riders covered 151.6km of hilly terrain with a vicious category one ascent of the Alto de San Miguel de Aralar before they descended to the finish in Lekunberri.
Five riders went up the road after a long battle to get clear. The riders that made it were Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Gonzalo Serrano (Caja-Rural), Jonathan Hivert (Total Direct Energie), Alex Aranburu (Astana), and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal).
The time gap for the riders as a group peaked at 4-38 until the race started to break down as Wellens went clear with 70km to go. The gap then grew to 6-18 to the Belgian rider who had put a 1-35 advantage into the rest of the break.
Behind, unsurprisingly, Jumbo-Visma controlled the gap for stage one’s winner, Primož Roglič until 60km to go where Movistar came to the front and started really pushing the peloton along hard as the road opened out and the wind split the race up.
Roglič himself closed the Movistar train down immediately before Ineos Grenadiers brought them back under control and the peloton began to come back together.
Ineos then joined Movistar in the pacing as they looked to set up their leaders onto the final climb before the descent to the finish line.
Chris Froome (Ineos Grenadiers) was dropped with 50km to go as he was badly placed in the more exposed sections as Movistar continued to drill the pace.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) was one of the biggest names dropped as his group was losing a minute and a half to the Movistar led peloton.
Meanwhile, up front, Wellens sat up with 38km to go and the rest of the break came back up to the Belgian with the gap just above two minutes.
Armirail was the next man to go solo from the break with 34km to go as the rain started to come down with a 46-second gap back to the peloton.
With 32km to go, the bulk of the break was brought back with an attack by Andrey Amador and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) with Aranburu latching on from the original break with Armirail the only man left up the road.
Carapaz, Amador and Aranburu caught Armirail with 27km to go with a 15-second gap just before the final climb up the Alto de San Miguel de Aralar.
Amador and Armirail were dropped about a kilometre into the climb and Carapaz pushed on to try and take the stage as well as the race lead but he was caught with 25km to go by the Movistar led peloton.
Luis León Sánchez (Astana) hit out with 22km to go, 5km until the top of the climb and nobody chose to chase after the Spanish champion as the riders going for the overall stuck to their own race.
Fifth on the first stage, Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) started to lose contact as the Movistar led group of leaders hit the steepest gradients along with Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) and Iván Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers) with 20km to go.
Sánchez was reeled back into the group of favourites with 2km to go until the top of the climb and 18km to go to the finish in Lekunberri.
Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), who started the day in 10th overall, was just hanging off the back of the GC group with riders being dropped constantly, with just 10 riders left up front.
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) had a tentative attack, followed by Carapaz which meant it was brought back immediately but that shelled George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) out of the back and properly dropped Bagioli with 17km to go.
Carapaz then attacked again but Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Kuss followed and it was brought back yet again as they went over the top with just Soler being dropped.
Soler, though, came back at speed and immediately attacked over the top on the technical descent with 13km to go as Bennett made it back as well to work for Roglič and Kuss.
Meanwhile, in a chase group, some small horses ran out into the road and almost caused a crash, luckily everyone made it through unscathed.
The Movistar rider soloed all the way to the line taking his and his team’s first win since February in Mallorca.
Behind, Roglič held onto his red jersey after sprinting to second place on the stage, taking six bonus seconds with it.
Vuelta a España 2020, stage two: Pamplona to Lukunberri (151.6km)
1. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar Team, in 3-47-04
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 19 seconds
3. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation
4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
5. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
6. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team
7. Esteban Cháves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott
8. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling
9. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
10. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time.
General classification after stage two
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 8-09-41
2. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 9 seconds
3. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 11s
4. Esteban Cháves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott, at 17s
5. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at same time
6. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling, at 20s
7. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 26s
8. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, at 56s
9. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 59s
10. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-04.