John Degenkolb wins 2nd stage of Spanish Vuelta
Spain La Vuelta Cyclists Team Argos Shimano, John Degenkolb from Germany,center, celebrates on the podium after winning the second stage, 181,4 kilometers, of the Spanish Vuelta cycling race that finish in Viana, northern Spain, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012.(AP / Alvaro Barrientos)
Published Sunday, August 19, 2012 3:00PM EDT
VIANA, Spain -- John Degenkolb of Germany won the second stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday, while local favourite Jonathan Castroviejo kept the red leader's jersey for the Movistar team.
Degenkolb powered in front of the pack in the final sprint to narrowly win the stage for Argos-Shimano, finishing in 4 hours, 38 minutes, 40 seconds.
Australian rider Allan Davis of Orica-Greenedge was second, followed by England's Ben Swift of Team Sky.
Christopher Froome, the Tour de France runner-up, came in 29th. Alberto Contador was 33rd in his first major race since his doping ban that cost him a third Tour title ended earlier this month. Both are considered favourites to win the race.
"It was a really hard sprint, 250 metres and slightly uphill," Degenkolb said. "In the end I had the best legs today, and I am really happy about that."
Temperatures reached 39 degrees Celsius during the 181-kilometre ride through rolling fields between Pamplona and Viana.
"The heat is a factor here at the beginning of the Vuelta," said Castroviejo. "Fortunately, there weren't any accidents on a day like today because it was difficult for anyone to try and escape."
A small group of riders broke away earlier on, but the last of them were caught by the peloton 12 kilometres from the finish.
After Movistar's team time trial victory in the first stage, Castroviejo and five teammates stay at the top the overall standings with a 10-second lead. That includes defending champion Juan Jose Cobo.
On Monday, the cyclists will face the first mountain stage, a 155-kilometre ride from Faustino V to a summit finish in the Basque town of Eibar.
The 21-stage race, one of the three cycling classics along with the Tour and Giro d'Italia, will finish on Sept. 9 in Madrid.