After stage one’s time neutralisation, the 2015 Vuelta a España got underway in earnest with stage two’s summit finish. The peloton splintered on the sharp ascent to Caminito del Rey, and it was Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) who climbed to stage glory and the overall race lead.
Away from the main news of the stage, here are the four things that got us talking.
Vincenzo Nibali disqualified from race for holding onto team car
We’d earlier reported on the possibility of a gentleman’s revenge as Vincenzo Nibali was distanced by a crash and Team Sky appeared to drive the peloton on to distance him. This is after Chris Froome complained that he thought Nibali had attacked him at the Tour de France when he was dealing with a mechanical.
Following Sunday’s Vuelta stage, video footage emerged of Nibali holding onto a team car to get back into contention for the stage, something that was confirmed by his team.
He has since been disqualified from the race and will be taking no further part in proceedings. This reignites the debate over who will lead Astana, with Fabio Aru the most likely to now lead due to his position on GC and his performance at the Giro d’Italia earlier this season.
Stringent application of the rules is something we have already seen this year, when Richie Porte was handed a two minute penalty for taking a wheel from a rival team at the Giro – an outcome that effectively ended his chances of a podium finish.
Team buses almost spoil the finish
It was reported early into the stage that a number of team buses had missed their turn-off on the finishing circuit and for a time were potentially blocking the course. Once the race reached the affected area, the buses were neatly parked to one side and the peloton passed through unhindered.
Thankfully, this didn’t descend into what we saw on stage one of the 2013 Tour de France when the Orica-GreenEdge bus got wedged under the finish gantry.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on the wider logistics as the race makes its way around Spain, to see if this is a one off glitch or a sign of things to come behind the scenes.
What does Quintana have left in the tank?
As the diminutive Colombian emerged from the lead group, many would have expected Nairo Quintana to ride away to the stage victory and overall lead. But this wasn’t the case, and he was dropped by his late-breakaway companions, finishing 26 seconds down on stage winner and compatriot Esteban Chaves.
It may be too early to read anything into this, but it does shine a light on Quintana’s form off the back of his second place in July’s Tour de France. All the talk ahead of the race has focused on whether Froome’s exertions in France will affect his performance — but what about the race runner-up, who was forced to make all the running during that nail-biting final week?
What’s Geraint Thomas’s role at this year’s Vuelta?
As the Tour de France progressed, Geraint Thomas became exactly the super-domestique that Chris Froome needed to defend his race lead and roll into Paris in yellow. However, if the second stage of the Vuelta is anything to go by then Thomas’s role will come earlier in the stage, leaving the likes of Nicolas Roche to guide Froome home, or indeed take it up himself.
As stage two entered the final 10km and began to ascend the testing slopes of the summit finish, Thomas could be seen setting the pace and dragging his teammates into position, before peeling off and leaving others to take up the pace-making.
Whether this remains the case over the next three weeks remains to be seen, but whatever happens Thomas will undoubtedly be key to how Team Sky perform in the final Grand Tour of 2015.