Vuelta a Espana 2023
Andreas Krön (Lotto Dstny) won the chaotic and crash-marred stage 2 of the Vuelta a España in Barcelona on Sunday. Taking advantage of the steep ramp to the top of Castell de Montjuic in the final three kilometres, the Dane went off the front and flew down on the descent to claim the victory, seven seconds ahead of a small chase group.
Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) took the sprint for second place with Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën) in third.
Bowing to rider and team pressure, race organisers announced that the general classification time was taken with 9km to go due to the weather making the loop around Montjuic too dangerous in the wet conditions.
However, the time bonus on the Castell de Montjuic in the final four kilometres still came into play in the fight for the red leader’s jersey.
Chaos continued in the long wait to know who would wear the leader’s jersey. Finally, one of the two-rider breakaway who were still away as they crested the final climb. Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost) is the new leader with 11 seconds on his breakmate Javier Romo (Astana Qazaqstan). Ivan García Cortina (Movistar) moved to third overall, and leads a group of seven riders including Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich) who are tied on time, 13 seconds down.
The contenders for the overall victory took no risks, sat up and made it safely to the line over six minutes behind the stage winner.
The miserable conditions continued to wreak havoc with multiple riders including Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), and Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) and overnight leader Lorenzo Milesi (dsm-firmenich) hitting the deck.
Krön dedicated his first stage win in a Grand Tour to teammate Tijl De Decker, who lost his life last Friday after in a training accident.
“The bad weather conditions made for a difficult and dangerous day on the bike but already this morning I believed in this victory. With the wet roads and also the neutralisation, there would be chances and personally I have worked tremendously hard towards this Vuelta. I had to miss out on the Tour and to come back at this level, with a first stage win in a Grand Tour, means a lot to me.”
“I always said I would dedicate my first win in a Grand Tour to my late mother, but the team is going through a very difficult period at the moment, so I would really like to dedicate this win to Tijl De Decker. My mum will have to wait a bit more, but that second win will hopefully come soon.”
Piccolo had to wait before he could celebrate his first Grand Tour stage victory.
“I saw the soigneur, the doctor, our media manager, but we didn’t know for sure if we had got the red jersey,” Piccolo said. “We started the race with a six second gap and we crossed the line where the GC was neutralized with a 15 or 20 second gap. I knew that maybe only two guys in the race could make up the difference with the bonus seconds for the red jersey, but we had to wait until the confirmation.”
“I am really happy with my performance today. I trusted myself. The team trusted me, and we went from the start of the stage for the red jersey.”
Prior to the start of the 181.3km stage 2, organisers moved the official start in Mataró back by 2km as the course needed to pass through a partially flooded road.
The new start meant that the riders started at the base of the first climb of this year’s Vuelta, the Coll de Sant Bartomeu (6.6km at 4% gradient) where Matteo Sobrero (Jayco-AlUla), Élie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic) and William Bonet (TotalEnergies) launched the first attack. The trio was caught and immediately a counter-move went away with Javier Romo (Astana Qazaqstan), Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost), Matteo Sobrero (Jayco-AlUla) and Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).
The break, up to five riders after Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) joined on the descent, worked together but were not given more than 2:30 from the dsm-firmenich-led peloton.
The descent off the second climb of the day Coll d’Estenalles (12.1km at 3.9%) created more chaos in the peloton where 15 riders, including defending champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) suffered punctures. A calm Evenepoel went back to his team car, took his rain jacket off showing his Belgian national champion’s jersey and would rejoin the field after 20 kilometres.
With 60 kilometres to go, as the rain started to fall once again, the first of many crashes took down two riders, Pelayo Sanchez (Burgos-BH) and Callum Scotson (Jayco-AlUla) who quickly remounted their bikes.
In the next 20 kilometres, riders in the break faded due to pressure, leaving Romo, Piccolo and Sobrero with less than a two-minute lead.
Riders continued to crash on the slick pavement. In the break, Piccolo hit the deck and made it back to his break mates with help from the Jayco-AlUla car.
In the peloton, Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates), Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Thomas all went down, leading Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-QuickStep to demand that the peloton neutralize itself but dsm-firmenich, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Ineos Grenadiers all refused.
Alpecin-Deceuninck amped the pace at the front of the peloton working for their sprinter Kaden Groves despite the Montjuic climb near the end. With 15 kilometres to go, the break now down to two riders, Piccolo and Romo, only had 50 seconds.
As the escapees started the nine-kilometre neutralized section, Piccolo and Romo still had a small gap with Piccolo taking the six bonus seconds atop Castell de Montjuic (0.9km at 9.4%). That was enough to put Piccolo in the leader’s jersey.
Meanwhile, the contenders for the overall victory sat up in the peloton, focused on finishing safely. The pair of escapees was reeled in with eight kilometres to go leaving a reduced peloton of around 25 riders to battle for the stage win. Groupama-FDJ, EF Education-EasyPost and Alpecin-Deceuninck took the front to try and set up their sprinters.
But Lotto-Dstny’s Andreas Kron saw his chance and made a daring solo attack in the final three kilometres, with a small group of chasers including Remy Rochas (Cofidis)
Stage 1 winner, and overnight leader, Lorenzo Milesi (dsm-firmenich) also crashed during the stage and saw his dream of wearing the red jersey for one more day evaporate in the rain. He ultimately crossed the finish line 13:51 behind the winner.