On Sunday the 2023 Vuelta a España held its first road stage in the same miserable conditions that plagued the opening team time trial. With the final 9 km neutralized, Andreas Kron soloed to victory in Barcelona, which he dedicated to fallen development teammate Tijl De Decker. Breakaway rider Andrea Piccolo of EF Education-EasyPost took over the race lead from compatriot Lorenzo Milesi.
Sunday’s first road course was 181.8 km from Mataró to Barcelona, with the first categorized climb after the start. A long, mild Cat. 2 was in the first half of the route and a Cat. 3, the well-known Montjuïc, crested 3.5 km from the line. An uphill finish promised fireworks. The infernal rain that caused havoc on Stage 1 continued, so organizers announced that the times would be taken at the 9 km to go mark, although bonus seconds were still in play atop Montjuïc and in Barcelona.
Stage 2 of #LaVuelta23 travels from Mataró to Barcelona, but due to the rain that just won’t stop, there have been some changes.
While the bonus seconds atop Montjuic and at the finish line remain, the time of the stage will be taken at the top of the last climb. pic.twitter.com/Sk3wNyyyb3
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) August 27, 2023
It was a good day for someone to become the first King of the Mountain. Four riders bolted on the peloton soon after the start, to be joined later by a fifth. Javier Romo of Astana was first up Cat. 3 Coll de Sant Bartomeu, but Jayco-AlUla’s Matteo Sobrero tipped over Cat. 2 Coll d’Estenalles in the lead to assume the blue polka-dot jersey on the road.
109km to go! pic.twitter.com/MGsNwU9MFu
— Team Jayco AlUla (@GreenEDGEteam) August 27, 2023
At the midway point, champion Remco Evenepoel punctured and utilized his whole team to get back on even terms. After Primoz Roglic got caught up in a crash inside 30 km to go, Jonas Vingegaard signaled to the peloton to slow down so the Slovenian could latch back on. Race leader Lorenzo Milesi crashed with 21 km remaining and that was it for the Italian’s time in the red jersey.
There were only escapees left out front when the time was taken. This meant that Andrea Piccolo took over the red jersey. The duo was caught soon after. On Montjuïc the favourites sat up and let a group of 35 contest the day. Kron shot out from the pack, crested first to take the maximum bonus…