Cycling-Sky bounce back in Tour of Spain's second stage

Reuters

Sun, 21 Aug 18:54:00 2011

By Alasdair Fotheringham PLAYAS DE ORIHUELA, Spain , Aug 21 (Reuters) - Team Sky recovered from a poor performance in the opening team time trial as their Australian sprinter Chris Sutton won the Tour of Spain's second stage on Sunday.

After a difficult uphill section in the final kilometre shredded the pack, the 26-year-old blasted out of the field with 350 metres to go for his first ever Grand Tour win.

Spain's Vicente Reynes shadowed Sutton's late burst but faded to take second, while first-year German sprinter Marcel Kittel, the winner of 12 races this season, continued to punch above his weight to come third in his first Grand Tour.

Italian fastman Daniele Bennati moved into the overall lead after his sixth-place finish enabled the Leopard Trek rider to move ahead of Danish team mate Jakob Fuglsang.

Less than 24 hours after Team Sky finished third last in the opening team time trial, the British outfit showed it had not lost its morale.

"I wouldn't say Saturday was disappointing, to finish so far back was a little bit of a setback and today we showed we'd kept the team spirit high," Sutton told reporters.

"I knew it was a hard uphill finish, every sprinter would probably try to accelerate too early.

"So I was waiting and waiting and then when someone from [Omega-Pharma] Lotto attacked, I got on his wheel.

"I looked behind and from 200 metres to go I knew I had it."

GREAT DAY

On a great day's racing for Sky on Sunday, Sutton's team mate Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway won the Vattenfalls Cyclassic, Germany's biggest one-day race.

Bennati dedicated his leader's jersey to the memory of Belgian Wouter Weylandt, who died in a high-speed downhill crash in the Tour of Italy in May.

"I spent a lot of time with Wouter in the Tours of Qatar and Oman this year, and in Italy he was going to be my leadout man in the sprints," Bennati told reporters.

"I'm pleased I can dedicate this win to him."

Bennati confirmed that his strong racing on a difficult uphill sprint should strengthen his status as team leader for Italy in next month's world championships.

Sutton's victory came close to the town of Orihuela, where in last year's race Sky's team assistant Txema Gonzalez died of a bacterial infection. Sky then pulled out of the race the following morning.

The Tour of Spain finishes on Sept. 11 in Madrid.

 

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