BARCELONA, Spain — Andreas Kron of Lotto Dstny won the second stage of the Vuelta Espana, a 181.3 kilometre ride from Mataro to Barcelona, pointing to the sky in celebration to pay tribute to late team mate Tijl De Decker.
Belgian rider De Decker died earlier this week as a result of severe injuries he sustained after crashing into the back of a car during training.
In tough conditions, Denmark’s Kron made his move with three km to go, crossing the finish line seven seconds ahead of a group of pursuers.
Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroen) were second and third.
The first stage was affected by rain and there was no respite on the second stage either, with weather protocol coming into play and times for the general classification being taken 9 kilometres from the finish line.
However, the bonuses on the Montjuic climb were still applied.
Defending champion Remco Evenepoel suffered an early puncture, one of many on a descent, that dropped him back and the Belgian had to toil to rejoin the peloton.
Three-times winner Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas also crashed as the weather got worse but they made their way back into the peloton.
Tour de France Champion Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) also acted out before the start of stage, complaining about the weather conditions, failing to appreciate it is road cycling he is participating in, and demanding that race organiser Unipublic neutralized the stage because of the rainy weather conditions.
One recalls Andy Schleck who was a poor descender and, therefore, proposed that the Tour de France should not include any descents.
The hostilities started early when a four-man group broke away from the peloton. The group featured Andrea Piccolo (EF Education-EasyPost), Matteo Sobrero (Jayco-Alula), Javier Romo (Astana Pro Team), and Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).
Some kilometres later, Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH) launched a bold solo attack from the main peloton and bridged the gap to the front group.
The riders passed through beautiful mountain terrain with sculpturally formed mountain sides that were as aesthetically pleasing as the most beautiful paintings.
Race organiser Unipublic had chosen a very scenic route that suited the final Grand Tour of the 2023 season to perfection.
With 47 kilometres left of the stage it had started raining more and Bol and Nicolau slipped on the road and came off their bikes. Were the teams using all-weather tires?
The duo was now playing catch-up with the front trio that had carried on without waiting. Of the riders in front, Piccolo was the best placed rider in the general classification, so he was hoping to take the red race leader jersey by finishing well in the stage.
The front trio had a lead of approximately two minutes over the main peloton with 40 kilometers left to contest of stage 2.
In a roundabout 32 kilometers from the finish, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) crashed together with riders from UAE Team Emirates and Ineos-Grenadiers. Roglic quickly got back on his bike and carried on.
Piccolo crashed in the front group but returned to racing after switching bikes two times.
Piccolo and Romo entered Barcelona together and soldiered on towards the finish line.
As the finish time would be taken nine kilometres from the finish due to the complaints from Vingegaard and Evenepoel, it appeared Piccolo would take the red jersey and become the new leader of La Vuelta a Espana 2023 following stage 2.
With one kilometre left, Kron was still solo in front. Kron crossed the finish line in solo fashion to take the victory in stage 2 of La Vuelta a Espana 2023.
Kaden Groves finished second for Alpecin-Deceuninck, and AG2R-Citroen’s Andrea Vendrame completed the stage podium.