Russell Downing finished a strong third in the sprint on stage two of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.
The Brit took advantage of an impressive lead-out from Team Sky for the second day running and was able to improve upon Wednesday’s position in the sprint, narrowly edged out by Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) and Sergio Ribeiro (Barbot-Epafel) at the line.
The squad forced the initiative again in the closing kilometres, taking to the front of the peloton to lead Downing into the final straight in perfect position.
As a reward the Yorkshireman moved up to second place on the overall classification and will wear the points jersey on behalf of Ventoso during the mountainous stage three.
Ventoso demonstrated his sprinting prowess to kick early and hold on to take his second win in two days on the false-flat finish into Salamanca, consolidating the lead of the race.
As the field rolled out of Valladolid a five-man break moved clear after 15km but unlike the opening stage, the escapees were never allowed to build up a sizable advantage.
The quintet were held firm at five minutes before work from Saxo Bank-Sungard and Movistar closed down the gap to set up the inevitable bunch kick.
After the stage we caught up with sports director Nicolas Portal, who was happy to reflect on another aggressive day for the team.
“Russell was very close at the finish today. I think he is very fast but Ventoso is really incredible. The team has worked very, very hard today,” he said.
“With 2km to go I asked the team to be at the front for the final roundabout and they did a very good lead-out.
“We did a very good job but a race is a race. The best sprinter today won but it is very good still for Russell.
“In the meeting this morning I said ‘I hope you don’t need to work because the responsibility is on Movistar and Saxo Bank because tomorrow is a big stage’.
“I told the team to stay together and near the front as much as possible in case the wind was dangerous.
“It was a good day and I think all the team are happy and we go into tomorrow’s stage with a good mentality.
“Ben Swift also felt much better after yesterday. He was excited for the stage and I think now there is no problem. All the team is at 100%.”