After a difficult Tour de France for the FDJ team, riders were chomping at the bit at the start of the Vuelta on Saturday, keen to prove their worth.
If the first stage was a time trial of 27,8km, the second was one for the sprinters. Laurent Pichon, with his FDJ ream mates, were on the top of their game and took the right escape group to get into position at the front of the race. In a group of 3 riders, he was able to fight in the sprint at the top of the Alto de Ardales hill (3rd category); a sprint he won in front of Nauleau (Direct Energy) and Benedetti (Bora Argon 18).
With this strong performance, Laurent Pichon climbed on the podium to wear the jersey for the best climber of the Vuelta.
The next day, the real fun began. The profile of the stage between Marin and Mirado of Ezaro, to Dumbria: a 3rd grade climb, a second category col and a short but steep final climb.
Here again, a FDJ rider got into the break. Alexandre Geniez was in an initial group of 7 riders. At 22.5km from the finish, just three riders were still at the forefront. Alexandre Geniez was first able to drop Simon Pellaud, and then Pieter Serry to break out alone just one kilometer from the finish. The pack soon exploded under the push of Movistar. Chris Froome was not able to follow at first and Alberto Contador was dropped.
Holding strong, Alexandre Geniez saw Esteban Chaves and Movistar work hard to gain on him. But the effort came too late to deny the French a second stage victory on the roads of the Vuelta, alone and powerful. Congratulations Alexandre!
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