FI’ZI:K’S KWIATKOWSKI LEADS THE VUELTA

It’s early days at the third and final Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a Espana, but already there’s a familiar feel with Team Sky, in the form of Michal Kwiatkowski (fi’zi:k Antares VS), in first place. Where Chris Froome (fi’zi:k Antares) wore yellow at the Tour, 26-year-old Kwiatkowski currently wears red, a powerful finish on Sunday’s stage two securing the top-five finish that leaves him ahead of the Movistar duo of Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil in second and Alejandro Valverde in third.

Pete Kennaugh (fi’zi:k Antares VS), who led the race after Team Sky’s 27.8km team time trial victory on Saturday, is now in sixth after a selfless effort on the 160.8km second stage from Ourense to Baiona that helped to project Kwiatkowski to fourth, just behind Orica-BikeExchange’s Magnus Cort (fi’zi:k Arione VSX).

‘I’m thankful to Pete that he gave me the chance to sprint in today’s final and to go for the red jersey,’ Kwiatkowski said after the stage. ‘Two kilometers before the final he asked me if I wanted to sprint and I accepted.’

Whether Kwiatkowski will be in red come Monday evening remains to be seen. Stage three begins in the naval town of Marin before consuming 176km and 2,715m elevation to the uphill finish at Mirador de Ézaro. And what an uphill finish. Though only 1.8km long, it averages 13.1% with ramps at 22%. There’s also talk of 30% gradients but only if you ride the wrong line through hairpins.

Contenders for the stage, and potentially for overall, include old hands Valverde and Froome, as well as Orica-BikeExchange’s Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves (both fi’zi:k Antares), Alberto Contador and, an outsider, Andy Talansky (fi’zi:k Aliante and Cannondale-Drapac).