Jasper Philipsen pipped Fabio Jakobsen to the stage two sprint victory at the 2021 Vuelta a España.
Michael Matthews settled for third ahead of Juan Sébastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates), while Alex Aranburu rounded out the top five.
A crash inside the final 5km, crucially outside the safety of the 3km time cut-off, caused panic in the peloton and claimed a number of Bora-Hansgrohe riders after a touch of wheels.
Primož Roglič remains in the race lead, emerging unscathed, although second-place Aranburu picked up bonus seconds to move within four seconds of the Slovenian.
The British duo of Adam Yates and Hugh Carthy were caught up, however, losing 31 and 38 seconds respectively, while Bahrain's Jack Haig and Ineos' Pavel Sivakov were also held up.
How it happened
Hot again on the second day of the Vuelta, with a chance for the fast men to take the opening scalp on the first flat day.
Not long after the start the Spanish wildcard teams duly obliged in sending three men up the road, Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH), Sergio Martin (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi), the gap soon zooming up to the three minute mark.
It was a quiet day out on the road, no categorised climbs to contest for the breakaway, Alpecin-Fenix's Jay Vine crashing in the peloton with 75km remaining.
The pace soon began to ramp up in the peloton, GC teams keen to keep their riders up front and safe, and out of harm's way should any crosswinds emerge, bringing the trio up ahead back to within 30 seconds, before relenting.
Another minute was soon added onto the breakaway's advantage as the heat sapped the riders, Movistar and Groupama-FDJ taking turns at the front of the bunch.
With around 30km to go the cohesiveness of the break started to fall apart, Rubio attacking his two collaborators, Azparren dropping off and soon followed by Martin.
Rubio had a lead of a minute when he set off alone, but within 5km it had halved, bringing him back quickly ahead of the intermediate sprint.
Astana and Omar Fraile tried to lead out Alex Aranburu, trailing Roglič by six seconds on GC and with bonus seconds up for grabs, but he was beaten by Deceuninck - Quick-Step's Fabio Jakobsen, the Spaniard having to settle for just the two seconds across the line.
Ineos and Bahrain-Victorious were on the front heading into the final 10km, keeping their men out of harm's way, as the sprint teams stayed hidden for now.
Tom Pidcock soon dropped, having worked hard for the team during the day, before Groupama-FDJ and UAE Team Emirates emerged at the head of proceedings.
A crash then erupted in the bunch, with 4km to go, Bora-Hansgrohe with a number of men down, Patrick Gamper looking hurt, as well as Meus.
The rush to the line continued, however, Alpecin-Fenix and Deceuninck - Quick-Step coming through now, a final bend before a straight run to the finish.
Matteo Trentin opened things up for Molano, who soon hit the front, Matthews on his wheel, before Jakobsen came around and was quickly making up ground, only just pipped to the line by Jasper Philipsen, who took the stage victory.
Vuelta a España 2021, stage two: Caleruega to Burgos (166.7km)
1. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, in 3-58-57
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at same time
3. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange
4. Juan Sebastián Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates
5. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Astana - Premier Tech
6. Jon Aberasturi (Esp) Caja Rural - Seguros RGA
7. Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrone
8. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert
9. Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
10. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis, all at same time
General classification after stage two
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-07-29
2. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech, at four seconds
3. Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Victorious, at 10s
4. Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education-Nippo, at same time
5. Josef Černy (Cze) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 11s
6. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, at 12s
7. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 14s
8. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education-Nippo, at 15s
9. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange, at same time
10. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at 17s
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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