Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana provides the sprinters the first of less than half a dozen genuine chances for fast finishers at this year’s race. Most of the ‘sprint’ stages possess a strong possibility for breakaway riders to upset matters, but this one at least is just about certain to end with the sprinters having a bit of a hurrah.
With all the normal sprint candidates absent from the Vuelta – Cavendish, Sagan, Kittel, Greipel, Demare, Matthews etc – the door is open for a new name to establish themselves as the next big thing in sprinting; although on paper Trek-Segafredo’s John Degenkolb should be the best of them. Interestingly though the German – who has managed a none-to-shabby 53 UCI wins in his career – has only won three races since returning from his horror crash at the beginning of 2016.
The German is our favourite though, and he comes to the Vuelta in good form, off the back of a strong Tour de France. If Degenkolb is not to win, however, I would pay attention to the form of British sprinter Adam Blythe of Aqua Blue Sport. Aaron Gate’s teammate and former British national road champion has finished in the top 10 in events this year on 10 occasions; and has finished second four times. The elusive win this year is surely close, and what better stage to achieve it on than here in the Vuelta?
The sprinters we are so used to witnessing fly to the finish line ahead of the others are largely absent, but I’m excited about what’s ahead in terms of fast finishes. This could be the emerging of some of these riders, or the reassertion of John Degenkolb as one of the best in the world.