The second stage of the Tour of Spain on Wednesday offered an opportunity, and Bruno Armirail bravely tried to seize it. After getting in the day’s breakaway, the Frenchman spent some time in front of the race before being the last man caught by the bunch, just before the final climb. Another fight among the GC contenders occurred today, and Marc Soler eventually took the victory. David Gaudu finished in a chasing group one minute behind the Spanish winner.
One day after Primoz Roglic’s victory in Arrate, a short 151-km stage was to be tackled by the Vuelta riders on Wednesday. However, there were still some obstacles along the way with three categorized climbs and especially the last one, that of San Miguel de Aralar (9.5 km at 8%), fifteen kilometers from the finish. As there were already some significant gaps in the general classification, a breakaway had its chances of success from this second day of racing already. “This morning, all of our riders had the possibility to go up front,” confirmed Franck Pineau. “Then, once the good move would be gone, our goal was to refocus around David in the peloton”. The good move, in this case, did not go out immediately. A first attempt was neutralized before Tim Wellens continued alone in the first thirty kilometers. Behind him, a counter-attack took shape with four men including Bruno Armirail for Groupama-FDJ. “The start was difficult,” he explained. “We attacked in the first climb but the peloton actually let us go after the downhill. Tim Wellens was already in front and we ended up with five. It wasn’t enough. To hope for victory today, it would have been better if there were ten riders”.
“We will keep trying”, Bruno Armirail
While the leading group took a six-minute gap with sixty kilometers from the finish, they were not able to capitalize on it due to a sudden acceleration from the Movistar team in the bunch. The gap therefore narrowed considerably as the last climb of the day approached. Bruno Armirail did try to give another push with about 35 kilometers to go, but his lead was far too small to hope for greater things. “I wanted to tackle the climb in the lead,” he explained at the finish. “I was told there was a minute gap. I knew that it would not be enough, but I told myself “come on let’s try”. The wind also made it even more complicated to resist, but at least I tried, I have no regrets. It might as well have gone to the end, you never know. It will be for next time, we will keep trying and I hope it will work”. “Bruno did a very good stage”, said Franck Pineau. “The breakaway didn’t go all the way as some teams, especially Movistar, decided otherwise, but I believed they could make it at some point. I even thought Bruno could have got a stage win today. He was not with pure climbers, he could have done it. It wasn’t meant to be today, but we’ll try again tomorrow.”
While Bruno Armirail got caught at the bottom of the final climb, Matthieu Ladagnous, Romain Seigle and Olivier Le Gac tried to position David Gaudu ahead of the favourites’ fight. The young Frenchman seemed to have better legs than the day before and just got dropped three kilometers from the top. He still limited his losses and finished in a chasing group, one minute behind the winner, Marc Soler, who broke away in the last downhill. David Gaudu is now 23rd overall on the eve of another stage for punchers-climbers, which features a hilltop finish in Laguna Negra de Vinuesa (6.5 km at 6.7%).