Roche takes stage 2 in Vuelta de Espana

Last Updated: Mon, Aug 26, 2013 10:50 hrs

Madrid, Aug 26 (IANS) Nicholas Roche, the son of 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche, won stage two of the Vuelta de Espana (Tour of Spain) cycle race.

The Irishman who rides for the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff team was the strongest rider Sunday at the end of the 11 kilometre climb at the end of the 176-km stage which began in Pontevedra in the north-west of Spain and finished at the top of the Alto do Monte da Groba, which overlooks the picturesque resort of Baiona, reports Xinhua.

Meanwhile, Giro de Italia winner Vicenzo Nibali ended the day as overall race leader taking the lead from his teammate Janez Brajkovic, who led after Saturday's team time trial.

The flat trajectory of the opening 165 km of the stage and the fact that it was the first non-time trial meant that early race excitement was always going to produce a series of attempts from groups of riders to form a breakaway.

A three-man group consisting of Greg Henderson (lotto-Belisol), Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) and Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Sharpe) got clear as the main peloton and were able to open up a gap of over 12 minutes.

The peloton reacted with around 60 km remaining in the stage and with several teams working together they quickly began to close the gap so much so that when the three escapees reached the final climb, their lead had been cut to just a minute and a half and that disappeared in the first two km of the Alto do Monte da Groba.

That left Alejandro Valverde's Movistar and Nibali and Brajkovic's Astana teams to set the pace on the climb.

Leopold Konig attacked with 1.4 km to go, breaking free of the favourites and followed by Dani Moreno and Roche. The Irishman had the strength in his legs to take him clear in an agonising last km to finally finish 12 seconds ahead of Moreno.

Meanwhile, Nibali finished a further two seconds behind and takes the leader's red jersey from Brajkovic with Roche second overall, eight seconds behind and Haimar Zubeldia of the Radioshack-Leopard team third. Spain's Alejandro Valverde is 27 seconds off the lead.

Stage three Monday is a virtually flat stage between Vigo and Vilagracia de Arousa.

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