Roche leads Vuelta as Quintana claims stage two

Nairo Quintana

After winning stage two, Colombia’s Nairo Quintana is chasing his second triumph at La Vuelta after finishing in the winner’s red jersey in 2016

Nairo Quintana laid down a marker for his credentials to win the Vuelta a Espana with victory on stage two of the race.

Quintana held off the challenge of Ireland’s Nicolas Roche and Primoz Roglic to win by five seconds after 199.6km in the saddle.

But Roche holds the leader’s red jersey by two seconds from Quintana.

The Colombian is chasing a second success over the three-week race in Spain, having won in 2016.

Although Sunday’s stage from Benidorm to Calpe began and finished on the coast, it was a day for the climbers and there are few better than Quintana. The Movistar rider was in a group of six chasing the stage win in the final 10km.

He launched a decisive attack in the final 3km, which none of the others could match and he crossed the line in a time of five hours 11 minutes and 17 seconds to claim his 10th stage victory in cycling’s grand tours – the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta – much to the delight of the Colombian supporters there to cheer on him and Rigoberto Uran.

Roche and Roglic came in five seconds behind him with general classification contender Uran and Spain’s Mikel Nieve clocking the same time in fourth and fifth respectively.

It was enough for Sunweb’s Roche to end the day in red as leader of the GC standings for the first time since 2013 when he also led after stage two. Astana’s Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez had been in red after the opening-day team time trial.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” he told Eurosport. “It’s been six years now since I had the red jersey, so it’s an amazing day. Just to be back in the leader’s jersey of a grand tour, I’m speechless.”

Roche is trying to follow in the footsteps of Sean Kelly and become an Irish winner of the Vuelta after Kelly’s triumph in 1988.

James Knox is the leading Briton in 25th on the GC standings, already one minute 41 seconds behind Roche.

The race continues on Monday with a 188km flat stage from Ibi Ciudad del Juguete to Alicante.

Stage 2 result:

1. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) 5hrs 11 mins 17 secs

2. Nicolas Roche (Ire/Sunweb) +5 secs

3. Primoz Roglic (Svn/Jumbo-Visma) +5 secs

4. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First) +5 secs

5. Fabio Aru (Ita/UAE Team Emirates) +5 secs

6. Mikel Nieve (Spa/Mitchelton Scott) +8 secs

7. Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col/EF Education First) +37 secs

8. Tadej Podacar (Svn/UAE Team Emirates) +37 secs

9. Alexander Aranburu Deba (Spa/Caja Rural-Seguros) +37 secs

10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +37 secs

General Classification standings (after stage two):

1. Nicolas Roche (Ire/Sunweb) 5hrs 26 mins 12 secs

2. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +2 secs

3. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First) +8 secs

4. Mikel Nieve (Spa/Mitchelton-Scott) +22 secs

5. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Spa/Astana Pro) +33 secs

6. Primoz Roglic (Svn/UAE Team Emirates) +36 secs

7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Sunweb) +38 secs

8. Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Col/EF Education First) +40 secs

9. Davide Formolo (Ita/Bora-Hansgrohe) +40 secs

10. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-Hansgrohe) +46 secs

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