Andrea Piccolo rides into the red jersey at the Vuelta a España
The Italian took over the lead of the Spanish grand tour on the second stage
Andrea Piccolo is just two days into his rookie grand tour and already wearing his first leader’s shirt.
The Italian took over the lead of the Vuelta a España with a tremendous breakaway effort on the rain-soaked second stage from Mataró to Barcelona.
“I am really happy with my performance today,” Andrea said after the podium celebration. “I trusted myself. The team trusted me, and we went from the start of the stage for the red jersey.”
Andrea only had to make up six seconds. That was the gap to the front of the race after yesterday evening’s team time trial in downtown Barcelona, where he and his teammates finished third. Andrea was determined to close the gap, despite the storm and treacherous, flooded roads the peloton faced from the start of the day. He went on the attack on the first climb, the Coll de Sant Bartomeu, and got clear with four other riders.
“From the start, the whole bunch knew it would be crazy,” Andrea said. “I though, maybe in front it would be better than to stay in the group. It was! I am really, really happy.”
Once he was out front, Andrea knew that he just had to keep a big enough advantage to the nine-kilometers-to-go marker, where the race organizers had decided to take the times for GC, as the final circuit up to the Castell de Montjuïc was very dangerous. Andrea rolled through all day and kept pushing as the other riders in the breakaway faded. By the time they got to the decisive point, there were only two of them left, and Andrea had more than enough of an advantage. Still, there were bonus seconds to be won on the finish line, and a few long moments of waiting after Andrea had crossed it to make sure that none of his rivals had got them.
“I saw the soigneur, the doctor, our media manager, but we didn’t know for sure if we had got the red jersey,” Andrea said. “We started the race with a six second gap and we crossed the line where the GC was neutralized with a 15 or 20 second gap. I knew that maybe only two guys in the race could make up the difference with the bonus seconds for the red jersey, but we had to wait until the confirmation.”
When it came, Andrea was ecstatic. He is only 22 and had secured the white young-rider’s jersey as well.
“Now, I will call my girlfriend, my mother, my father, all my friends,” he said.
Tomorrow, the Vuelta heads to the mountains of Andorra, where Andrea will race to defend his lead. Right now, he is just trying to soak in this moment.
“Tonight we will celebrate with the whole team at the dinner table,” he said. “And tomorrow, we will see!”