After an opening time trial with no impact on the general classification, the second stage of O Gran Camiño really launched the race on Friday. On a day marked with harsh weather conditions, the Groupama-FDJ cycling team didn’t disappoint in the final towards Chantada. Lenny Martinez took fifth place at the finish, Quentin Pacher seventh and David Gaudu twelfth. All three are therefore in the mix for the GC, which should not change too much on Saturday in Castelo de Ribadavia.

After the opening stage got disrupted by the wind (and neutralized in terms of gaps), rain was expected on stage 2, where the double ascent of the Alto de San Pedro de Licora was to establish a first GC hierarchy. “As we were heading to the start this morning, we quickly realized that it was going to be a tough day,” said Jussi Veikkanen. “It really was, with rain, even sleet, 3-4 degrees, and even wind. It was truly a day for warriors. On top of that, the stage had almost 3000 meters of elevation gain.” “I think it’s one of my rainiest days on the bike,” Enzo Paleni also testified. “In these conditions, you have to be mentally prepared before the start, and we were so. We have good clothing, so we don’t necessarily feel cold, but it’s mainly tiring mentally. From the start, we also positioned in front because we know that it gives you the right momentum.” The young Frenchman also followed a few moves at the start, before the day’s breakaway formed after around thirty kilometers with twelve riders. They never enjoyed more than a 3-minute lead, and the peloton then got closer as the final circuit approached. “As far as we are concerned, we were very committed all day,” Jussi said. “The first strategic location was the bottom of the climb we had to do twice. We had to be in a good position, and the guys did that well thanks to Eddy and Clément for the first ascent.”

“A great team strength”, Jussi Veikkanen

The first time up the Alto de San Pedro de Licora, around thirty kilometers from the finish, reduced the bunch to around forty men, including David Gaudu, Lenny Martinez, Quentin Pacher, Reuben Thompson and Enzo Paleni. In the lead, Xabier Azparren (Q36.5) and Alex Molenaar (Illes Balears Arabay Cycling) managed to stay away for a bit longer and tackled the second ascent of the Alto de San Pedro de Licora (5 km at 6%) with a 30-second lead. Enzo Paleni and Quentin Pacher brought their leaders back up ahead of the big fight, which Jonas Vingegaard eventually launched 3500 metres from the summit, almost eight kilometers from the finish. As they found themselves behind a small split when the Dane attacked, Lenny Martinez and David Gaudu joined a chasing group which included less than ten riders, but with their teammate Quentin Pacher. In the lead, Jonas Vingegaard was first followed by Jefferson Cepeda and Egan Bernal, before flying off solo in the last kilometre of the climb. In the back, Lenny Martinez also made an attempt. “I attacked towards the end of the climb to try to join the Vingegaard group,” explained the young climber. “I was with Uijtdebroeks, we worked a bit together, but we didn’t manage to join them. Then, it was full gas on the last ramp to gain time for the overall.”

While Vingegaard secured the day’s victory, Lenny Martinez crossed the line forty seconds later in fifth position. Six seconds later, Quentin Pacher and David Gaudu took seventh and twelfth places respectively, alongside the other GC contenders. “I’m in this race to improve, and it will get better in the coming days,” said David. “Vingegaard was superior, there is not much to say about that,” summarized Jussi. “Behind him, we are part of a homogeneous group with a great team strength. It’s a good overall result.” Reuben Thompson’s seventeenth place further supported this fact. On Friday evening, Groupama-FDJ has three cards in the top-12 overall before the last two stages. “Tomorrow is the easiest stage on paper, but I think there will be some hard racing because there are already a lot of gaps in the GC, then there’ll be the queen stage on Sunday,” punctuated Jussi.

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