Giulio Ciccone (Trek Segafredo) claimed victory on stage two of the Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana, taking the race lead in the process.
The Italian launched his sprint to the line out of the last corner coming round Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) to claim the win and the race lead.
Brit Tao Geogehegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) who finished second on the stage also sits second on GC four seconds back while Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), who was third is a further second back
The stage came down to the final fast and furious climb. After Ineo Grenadiers set a blistering pace, seemingly to deter and attacks the first salvo came from Brandon McNulty (UAE Emirates) as Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers) tired and pulled off from his mammoth turn at the front of the bunch.
He was joined up front by young British neo-pro Thomas Gloag (Jumbo-Visma) but largely under the work of Geoghegan Hart the pair we brought back and it came to sprint for the line.
Mikel Landa was the first to try and jump clear but didn’t get enough of gap to stop him getting swamped by the bunch including his team-mate bilbao who passed him for the final podium spot.
Speaking to GCN after the race Ciccone said: “This was a really hard stage. We knew before the start that we were strong even with only five riders - not quantity but quality. My director was always saying on the radio stay in the wheels, stay in the wheels, so I waited until the last corner.
“It was my first chance to win and I’m happy to start my season like this.”
He added that he had had a winter without any problems for the first time in ages and that had contributed to his good form at the race.
How it unfolded
Before TV pictures were turned on there were several crashes including race leader Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty). Even at the start he had given himself minimal chances of keeping the leaders jersey on today’s hilly stage and while doubtless the crash didn’t help he was eventually dropped out of the back of the race on the double digit gradients of Cumbres del Sol.
The day’s break as by that point down to of three riders with Javier Romo (Astana Qazaqstan), Alessandro de Marchi (Jayco-AlUla) a veteran stage hunter from the break-away, and Samuele Zoccarto an Italian rider with Green Project - Bardiani.
Zoccarto was dropped on the penultimate climb of the day and the two remaining riders did a valiant job holding off the chasing pack until about half way up the race’s final climb. They were caught with 5km to go.
Ineos Grenadiers set a strong pace up the final climb courtesy of Jonathan Castroviejo and only when he dropped back did the fireworks of the finale ignite in the final two kilometres.
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1