Alessandro Covi of UAE Team Emirates picked up his second win of the year as he made a late attack to snatch stage two of the Ruta del Sol 2022.
The Italian, who looked strong in the opening stage of the Andalucian five-day race, broke away from the bunch inside the final kilometre and was untouchable on the steep cobbled finish in Alcalá la Real.
Miguel Ángel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan Team) tried to hunt down the 23-year-old in the final 100m but his efforts were in vain as Covi came home three seconds ahead of the Colombian.
Scoring UAE Team Emirates’ fifth win of the year, the Italian also took the yellow leader’s jersey, leading Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) by five seconds.
How it happened
The riders faced another undulating parcour for the second stage of the Ruta del Sol, with a 150.6km route heading north-east from Archidona.
A testing finish then awaited in Alcalá la Real with a steep cobbled climb up to the Castillo de la Mota, where the gradient reached just over 11% in places.
One of the likely favourites for the stage, Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech), didn’t start in Archidona after pulling out of the race due to a stomach bug.
Five riders broke free from the peloton shortly after the flag dropped and built up a gap of nearly five minutes.
Kamil Małecki (Lotto Soudal) was the only WorldTour rider in a group that also contained four Spaniards, Diego Sevilla (EOLO-Kometa), Gotzon Martín (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Raúl García Pierna (Equipo Kern Pharma) and Jon Barrenetxea (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).
However, having learnt from their mistakes on the opening day of the Ruta del Sol, the peloton were in no mood to give the breakaway even a glimmer of hope as they kept a tight grasp on the time gap.
By the time the foot of the Alto de Las Grajeras was reached, with around 30km to go, the deficit had been cut to under a minute.
Barrenetxea, after picking up several KOM points earlier in the day, took three points at the summit to overtake his team-mate Álvaro Cuadros and move into the lead of the classification.
Sevilla was the first of the five riders to be dropped as the remainder of the break looked to push on when they reached Peurto del Castillo, the final categorized climb before the finish.
However, they were rapidly swallowed up by the bunch with 10km to go.
The peloton then stretched out as they descended and made their way towards Alcalá la Real.
Ineos Grenadiers’ Eddie Dunbar and Ben Turner created a ferocious tempo that dropped the yellow jersey holder Rune Herregodts (Sport-Vlaanderen-Baloise) as a result.
Inside the final kilometre, Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) made an early attack, but he was soon caught and Covi counter-attacked with no one able to get onto his wheel.
The Italian, who tried to make a jump on the pack in the previous stage, did enough to create a gap between himself and the rest of the field inside the last 300m.
He then looked at ease over the cobbled section up to the line as the likes of López, Iván Sosa (Movistar Team) and others faltered when the gradient ramped up.
Covi’s win sees him move into the overall lead of the race, as well as taking top spot in the points classification, leading stage one winner Herregodts by nine points.
VUELTA A ANDALUCIA RUTA CICLISTA DEL SOL 2022, STAGE TWO: ARCHIDONA - ALCALÁ LA REAL (150.6KM)
1. Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates in 3-57-46
2. Miguel Ángel Lopez (Col) Astana Qazaqstan Team at 3 seconds
3. Iván Sosa (Col) Movistar Team at 4s
4. Steff Cras (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 5s
5. Gonzalo Serrano (Spa) Movistar at 5s
6. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team at 5s
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 5s
8. Simon Clarke (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech at 5s
9. Cristián Rodríguez (Spa) TotalEnergies at 5s
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain-Victorious at 5s
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO
1. Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates in 9-15-01
2. Ander Okamika (Esp) Burgos-BH at 5 seconds
3. Iván Sosa (Col) Movistar Team at 10s
4. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team at 11s
5. Simon Clarke (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech at 11s
6. Steff Cras (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 11s
7. Cristián Rodríguez (Spa) TotalEnergies at 11s
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 11s
9. Carlos Rodriguez (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers at 11s
10. Gonzalo Serrano (Spa) Movistar at 16s
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