Vuelta a España 2019 stage 2: Benidorm > Calpe 199,6 km

After the team time trial, the riders might have a more stressful day waiting, with stage 2 being a hilly stage... the region of Alicante.

Benidorm, today a tourist-oriented city, was hundred of years ago famous in Spain and the world for its fishing industry and particularly its fishermen who had learned to master the technique of catching tuna.

As the riders depart Benidorm, who hosted the stage 1 of the 2011 Vuelta (a TTT of course, won by Trek) the first categorized climb is the Puerto de Confrides, 20 kms long with an incline of 3,6%. The riders will then descend down to Benilloba, where the next ascent starts; el Alto de Benilloba, a short climb, measuring 6,4 kms at 4,2%. Afterwards the riders take a turn right, and not heading further inland, but begin the journey back to the coast. Never really flat, which is characteristic of la Vuelta, the road goes mostly up until Facheca, halfway into the stage. Afterwards as the riders head towards the coast, the stage goes downhill until reaching the finish in Calpe for the first time, and continuing north towards Cumbre del Sol (officially Puig Llorenca), which hosted stage finishes in 2016 (Dumoulin victory) and 2017 (Froome victory). This Cumbre del Sol is only 3kms long at 9,5% with the top at 340 meters, which differs from the profiles on the internet, which lists it as slightly longer and taller. Perhaps it is riding from another side, if there is such? Or perhaps accurate data is missing. Either way, a short descent and a plateau follows Cumbre del Sol, before the riders descend down to the finish line in Calpe.

General classification on before stage 2:

  1. Miguel Angel LOPEZ (Astana)
  2. Dario CATALDO (Astana)
  3. Jakob FUGLSANG (Astana)
  4. Ion IZAGIRRE (Astana)
  5. L.L. SÁNCHEZ (Astana)
  6. Gorka IZAGIRRE (Astana)
  7. Philippe GILBERT (Quickstep) + 2''
  8. Fabio JAKOBSEN (Quickstep)
  9. Zdenek STYBAR (Quickstep)
  10. Maximiliano RICHEZE (Quickstep)
Notable GC-contenders/pretenders outside top-10:

  1. Wilco KELDERMAN (Sunweb) + 5''
  2. Rigoberto URAN (EF-Education) + 7''
  3. Rafal MAJKA (Bora) + 13''
  4. Alejandro VALVERDE (Movistar) + 16''
  5. Nairo QUINTANA (Movistar) st.
  6. Esteban CHAVES (M. Scott) + 18''
  7. Tao GEOGHEAN HART (INEOS) + 25''
  8. Wout POELS (INEOS) st.
  9. Pierre LATOUR (AG2R) + 37''
  10. Steven KRUIJSWIJK (Jumbo) + 40''
  11. Primoz ROGLIC (Jumbo) st.
  12. Fabio ARU (UAE) + 1' 07''

Weather at finish line in Calpe:

That last 2nd cat climb will eliminate just about every sprinter or like not named Valverde. It is 3 Km @ 9.3%.
Is there anyone that can sprint like Valverde at the end?
Maybe someone from the breakaway but I see Movistar controlling the race for Valverde.
The very top of the climb is a dead end, so in order to ride it as a pass they don't go all the way to the top - just like in old pre-Picón Blanco editions of the Vuelta a Burgos stages to Lagunas de Neila (where they'd climb to Pasil de Rozavientos, then descend the side they currently climb back into Quintanar de la Sierra before climbing right to the summit) or traditional País Vasco stages to Arrate (where they'd climb to Ixua first, then return to Eibar over San Miguel before climbing the full Usartza climb and finishing at the sanctuary).
Reactions: yaco
And there's the trouble again...
With the ttt it was easy... just leave half an hour earlier for a ride and nothing's gonna be missed.
What to do when stages start running regularly?
The most difficult GT. Either in the heat or in the dark.
I'd be pretty shocked if Bennett wins. Mezgec is the only one of the sprinters who might have a slim chance of finishing with the lead group.

The final few km will be really hard for a reduced group to control. There's a good chance for an unheralded rider to sneak away off the front, win solo and perhaps take the race lead. James Knox for example.
It depends how they'll ride it. In my opinion also Sam Bennett can win.
If Bennett is still there it's because the peloton have ridden like pansies. Same for Mezgec.
Higuita, G.Izagirre, Fraile all have a good finish. Any chance Gilbert or Aranbaru make it to the finish with peloton?
If Gilbert isn't at the finish he'll be very disappointed. Between him, Gorka and Valverde IMO. Bevin, Henao and Henao might also be able to do something.
That last 2nd cat climb will eliminate just about every sprinter or like not named Valverde. It is 3 Km @ 9.3%.
Is there anyone that can sprint like Valverde at the end?
Maybe someone from the breakaway but I see Movistar controlling the race for Valverde.
Isn't Sergio Higuita someone who might be able to beat Valverde in a sprint (especially the "new" ultra thin Valverde)?
I'm curious how Roglic and Fuglsang will look today. Roglic will want to hit back after yesterday's bad luck. Is Fuglsang going to domestique for López?
What do you mean with "hit back"? He wont attack or try something on this stage lol.

Fuglsang is most likely there to support Lopez and maybe grab a stage win if he can, but as long he is still there in GC it is a nice insurance for Astana if something happens to Lopez.

I only now realise it is the same climb as where Dumoulin and Froome won.

How steep is that drag after the descent? Is it even 1%

IIRC, the coastline before the climb is far from easy either. Pretty similar to the capi of MSR.

No way a sprinter takes this imo.
Reactions: hayneplane
From what I remember of those two Cumbre Del Sol hilltop finishes they had a far more brutal impact than the raw statistics would lead you to expect.

López has in the past been vulnerable on these explosive short climbs but with a very strong team and it being over 20 kms from the finish he ought to avoid losing time.

I would fancy a peak Trentin or GVA to get over close enough to come back and win a reduced sprint so in their absence the likes of Gilbert, Boasson Hagen and Battaglin might survive and beat out the punchier GC guys such as Valverde, Higuita and Roglic.
2019 Valverde is not sprinting like the old one, although I would like to be proven wrong. I think the stage is wide open.
I agree that something has happened with his sprint. It was evident already in the Mallorca races this year.

I think some sprinters may survive (maybe even Bennett - he is not a bad climber) because there is still 25km to go when they cross the summit of that last steep climb.