Report: Team Sky
Published: 19 August 2012
Ben Swift hit out early but had to be content with a strong third in the sprint on stage two at the Vuelta a Espana.
The Brit held a good position heading through the final roundabout and kicked on the right-hand side of the road as the finish beckoned.
John Degenkolb just squeezed out Swift to claim his first Grand Tour stage win, the German (Argos-Shimano) arriving late to just pip his rivals on the line in an extremely close finish. Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEDGE) filled out the podium positions in second.
The finish in Viana was the first road stage proper of the race and provided a chance for the sprinters to gauge their level against one another.
There was a big fight for position on the arrow-straight run into the town, the bunch kick meaning that the general classification and the position of team leader Chris Froome remained unchanged, 12 seconds back.
Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) returned to the podium to pull on the red jersey, with the race set to be spiced up further on Monday with an uphill finish into the Basque Country.
197 riders took the start of the 181.4-kilometre test, Enrico Gasparotto of Astana carrying the unfortunate honour of the first retiree following a crash on Saturday’s team time trial.
Four riders hit out early with the main prize mid-stage being the chance to pull on the mountains classification jersey. At just 10 seconds off the race lead Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was not allowed to join the group after initially following the move.
After 77km a fight broke out on the third category Alto de la Chapela, the only climb on the day, with Javier Chacon (Andalucia) edging out Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) to pull on the first blue and white polka dot jersey.
With the trio only ever building an advantage in the region of five minutes a bunch sprint always looked likely as Movistar controlled the bunch on another scorching day, Team Sky moving to the fore in the final 20km to take up a better position.
A late dig from Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM) was snuffed out before the sprinters’ teams took it up and Degenkolb demonstrated his form.
In the mix
After the stage Sports Director Nicolas Portal was pleased with a performance that saw the team fighting on two fronts - going for the stage win and protecting the GC position.
He said: “It was very close on the line for Swifty. He went from quite a way out so it was a strong sprint for him and he can be confident that his level is up there with the top sprinters here.
“It was a good day for the team and very hot again. It was the first road stage and it was no surprise that it was a really fast finish. We were able to keep Froomey safe which was the main thing.
“Tomorrow we will look to do the same again as the race heads into the Basque Country and the first uphill finish of the race.”