Villalobos wins stage 2, takes race lead at Vuelta a San Juan; Benoot pleased with unexpected third place; Impressive lineup announced for Abu Dhabi Tour; Abu Dhabi route details unveiled; KordaMentha Real Estate – Australian national teams announced for Cadel Evans Great Road Race; INRNG on Armstrong’s lifetime ban and the Tour of Flanders; Ovett signs for Australian Cycling Academy; Strava expands with new office in Denver; Video: Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 – Official promo; Video: Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 – The jerseys
Villalobos wins at San Juan; strong field for Abu Dhabi Tour: Daily News Digest
Surprising the race favourites, Costa Rican rider Roman Villalobos was the winner of stage two of the Vuelta a San Juan, inheriting the race lead from stage one winner Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors). The Canel’s-Specialized rider went clear inside the final seven kilometres with the Argentinean Ricardo Escuela (A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima) and Belgium’s Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal).
Aided by a tailwind, the trio just about held off the main bunch, with Benoot’s efforts to keep them clear leading to him being passed by the other two in the sprint.
“I’m so happy, this win counts a lot for me,” said Villalobos, a two-time winner of the Vuelta a Guatemala. “I made so many sacrifices for this race and today, I’m rewarded. During the final kilometres, I had a really good sensations, good legs. I was able to counter-attack in the final part of the last climb with the goal to get as much time as possible given the stages ahead. In the final metres, I believed in it and I got an amazing victory.”
Early on four riders went clear, namely Ignacio J. Prado (Canel’s-Specialized), Carlos E. Alzate (UnitedHealthcare), Gerardo Tivani (Pocito) and Roderich Aconegui (Uruguay). The latter two lost contact, and Prado and Alzate were caught with 25 kilometres left. A six-man group then got away, but was reeled in with 15 kilometres left. Mattia Bais (Italy) subsequently tried, but his effort ultimately proved unsuccessful.
The time bonuses see Villalovos end the day four seconds clear of Escuela, with Benoot at six seconds and Gaviria at eight. “Tomorrow, I’ll try to defend myself and to lose as little time as possible,” said the new race leader. “Then I feel that the Alto Colorado summit finish will be the crucial stage.”