Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana / Dubai Tour (st. 2)
Spaniard from Movistar Team takes 2nd atop Fredes behind Martin (EQS) after solo attempt from brother José. Jesús now sits in 4th overall at Valencia, with Moreno in 6th and Ion Izagirre fully recovered in 8th spot
Little was missing for the Movistar Team to achieve its second win of the 2016 season. Jesús Herrada was the fastest of all favourites into the gentle climb of Fredes, the Cat-1 ascent (15km, 5% avg. gradient) putting an end into the 163km stage two in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. However, a well-timed attack from Daniel Martin (EQS) anticipated the big field, whose only challenge came halfway through the climb as José Herrada, the older of the Cuenca-born saga, jumped to keep their team-mates calm before the final kick.
José's attack, which managed to open a 20-second gap, found response from race leader Wout Poels' Sky train and, later on, from the attacks searching for the stage win. The fast, brief descent into the final kilometer avoided Jesús closing the gap to Martin as he crossed the line 2" behind, with Ion Izagirre (6th) and Dayer Quintana (9th) also staying within the group of the yellow jersey. As the TT specialists were dropped back from the main group, three from the Movistar Team are now part of the overall top ten: Jesús Herrada jumps onto fourth place (+26), Javi Moreno now ranks sixth (+32) and Ion, happily recovered from yesterday's crash, sits in eighth spot (+38).
Stage three on Friday – 173km between Sagunto and Alzira – could bring coastal winds and some stress to all riders; the GC men will, nevertheless, be thinking about Saturday's Xorret de Catí, where the Movistar Team will try to reach the podium they've been neglected today.
Jesús Herrada: "We also came close to winning yesterday in the time trial – that makes even more bitter to be up there with the big contenders and not taking the victory today. I had already checked the stage carefully on the Internet and the roadbook – it suited me well, I liked it. The climb was not too hard, but José attacked early on and put on a nice effort so the bunch could split and reduce danger for us. The pace ended up being fast for the whole peloton, which proves that the job my brother and team-mates did was good.
"Into the final kilometer, Daniel Martin attacked together with Dani Navarro, and Sky picked up the pace after them. It seemed like they would catch them, and we saved some energy for the sprint, but Martin ultimately kept that gap, he was really strong – we might have hesitated too much to go after him. We tried to close the gap into the last uphill slope with Ion and Dayer, thinking that some seconds would be feasible to close into the sprint, but the finish was slightly downhill and the positions we all had at the top of the ascent were the same we held over the finish.
"Tomorrow's stage should come down to a big bunch's sprint; it might be a recovery day for us GC riders, but it will also be a day to stay focused, not losing any time and staying away from trouble. Saturday offers a brandnew opportunity and I hope for any of my team-mates to be able to fight for victory and podium."
Dubai Tour: Late scare for Visconti; key day tomorrow
The Movistar Team kept suffering from misfortune during stage two of the Dubai Tour – 183km from the Emirate's capital to the artificial complex of Palm Jumeirah – as one of its most representative riders, Giovanni Visconti, lost control of his bike and crashed against the stand with ten kilometers from the line – where Elia Viviani (SKY) took the day's honours into a bunch sprint.
The Italian could get back to the tail of the main field despite feeling a bit dizzy and in pain on his head, yet with no serious injuries. Another incident into a tunnel after the flamme rouge broke the field; Juanjo Lobato, again near the top ten, stays 10" behind the GC leader.
The Dubai Tour will most probably come down to Friday's arrivée to the Hatta dam, a 200m, 12-17% gradient slope where Lobato was 3rd in 2015, behind Degenkolb and Valverde. The Andalusian will be surely looking forward to snatching his maiden stage win of this season there.