Wind wreakes havoc at Vuelta a San Juan
With the peloton splintered on the testing roads leading to Peri Lago Punta Negra, only a handful of riders were left fighting for the win.
Stage 2 of the Vuelta a San Juan turned out to be much harder than it looked on paper, creating at the end of the day some significant gaps in the general classification, led at the start by Fernando Gaviria. On paper, the four third-category climbs and the uphill drag to the finish shouldn't have had an impact on the overall and the stage, expected to culminate in a bunch gallop, but on the road things went in a completely different way.
Quick-Step Floors – the team of GC leader Fernando Gaviria – moved to the front of the peloton as soon as a break was established and thanks to the likes of Alvaro Hodeg and Iljo Keisse kept the four-man group, which was later reduced to just two riders, on a leash, bringing them back after cresting the last classified ascent, with some 25-odd kilometers remaining. Despite controlling things, it wasn't an easy day at the office for our squad, who was hindered by two untimely punctures, of Gaviria and Jhonatan Narvaez, the effort of bringing them back in the pack taking some toll on our team.
Then, due to the strong crosswinds blowing on the exposed roads to Peri Lago Punta Negra, the peloton splintered and other riders gave it a try, forcing our team to start a frantic chase that resulted in the peloton getting split, as more and more cyclists found it difficult to maintain the high pace.
On the last climb, attacks flew from the bunch, one of them having neo-pro Narvaez in the spotlight, who tried to test the waters and see if he could outfox the field helped by the tailwind, before being eventually caught with one kilometer to go by a trio from which Roman Villalobos (Canel's Specialized) took the win. Fernando Gaviria was again Quick-Step Floors' top finisher, crossing the line only eight seconds behind, a result which now finds the Colombian in fourth place overall, ahead of the race's sole individual time trial.
"It was a very demanding day, tougher than what anyone had anticipated. The headwind and the hot temperatures really impacted on how the stage unfolded and you could see that many riders suffered in the second half of the stage. We tried to get the win, we always try to be up there and fight for victory, but it wasn't made to be today. Let's see now what Tuesday's individual time trial will bring; it won't be a long one, but for sure it will create some gaps", said sports director Davide Bramati at the finish.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images