Esteban Chaves snatched the lead at the Vuelta a Espana when the Colombian surged clear to win the mountainous second stage into Caminito del Rey on Sunday as Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified for getting a tow from a car.
Orica-GreenEdge rider Chaves pipped Dutchman Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin to the line in the 158.7km trek by one second, with Team Sky’s Nicolas Roche a further eight seconds back in third and Irish compatriot Daniel Martin of Cannondale-Garmin another five seconds behind in fourth.
Roche’s Sky teammate Chris Froome, this year’s Tour de France winner who is bidding for a rare Tour de France-Vuelta a Espana double, was seventh, 30 seconds behind Chaves, who is to wear the leader’s red jersey for the third stage into Malaga.
A fine win for the Colombian was overshadowed by the disqualification of Italian Nibali, last year’s Tour de France champion, who won the Vuelta a Espana in 2010.
Following a pileup with about 30km remaining, TV footage showed Nibali hanging onto his Astana team car as he tried to catch up with the leaders and organizers had no choice but to expel him.
He eventually finished almost one-and-a-half minutes behind Chaves.
“The film shows clearly that Nibali was clinging to the car for 200m,” race officials president Bruno Valcic said.
Astana director Alexandre Shefer, who was driving the car, is also out of the race, he said.
The opening stage of the 70th edition of the Vuelta a Espana on Saturday, a team time trial won by US-based team BMC Racing, did not count toward the general classification due to safety concerns about several narrow sand-covered stretches in Marbella.
However, Chaves seized his chance with real racing underway.
“We talked among ourselves and how to deal with everyone around us, and the main thing to do was to attack these guys so that’s what we did,” Chaves told reporters.
“I felt like I was in a good position and in the end I did it and I got this [red] jersey,” he added.
Froome, who also won the Tour de France in 2013, was runner-up in last year’s Vuelta a Espana behind Spain’s Alberto Contador.
Contador is not contesting his home race after winning the Giro d’Italia, but struggling on the Tour de France.
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