GRUISSAN, France – Yves Lampaert took the overall lead of the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday after winning the second stage which saw strong winds, crashes and even a brief wait for a passing train.
Quick-Step Floors rider Lampaert finished ahead of teammate Matteo Trentin and Aqua Blue Sport rider Adam Blythe.
Tour de France winner Chris Froome rallied strongly despite a wheel change because of a flat tire.
Lampaert was in the group that split with about 7 kilometers (4 miles) to go in the 203-kilometer (126-mile) flat stage from the French city of Nimes to Gruissan. The Belgian made his winning charge at the 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) mark.
Earlier in the race, the peloton was briefly stopped with less than 50 kilometers (31 miles) left to let a train pass.
Froome needed a wheel change less than 75 kilometers (46 miles) from the finish. The Team Sky rider crossed in 16th – eight seconds behind Lampaert – and moved up to ninth overall, 21 seconds back. The four-time Tour de France champion is aiming to become the third rider to complete the Tour-Vuelta double in the same season.
Australian Rohan Dennis of team BMC Racing, who wore the leader’s red jersey after winning the first stage, finished only 89th on Sunday, falling to sixth overall.
Three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador, who is retiring from cycling after this year’s race, had another disappointing performance. He finished 62nd to drop to 47th overall, 52 seconds behind.
Riders had to deal with strong winds throughout the stage. Several went down in a crash within the peloton not long after the start but most were able to rejoin the pack.
Anass Ait El Abdia of Team Emirates and Javier Moreno of team Bahrain-Merida had to withdraw from the Vuelta after crashes.