Vuelta a España - Bouhanni wins stage two as Valverde takes red

Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni won stage two of the Vuelta a Espana after powering clear of sprint rivals John Degenkolb and Roberto Ferrari.

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Vuelta a España - Bouhanni wins stage two as Valverde takes red
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Nacer Bouhanni.

The FDJ fast man - who will join Cofidis at end of the season - was peerless in the opening bunch sprint of the race after an expert lead-out by team-mate Geoffroy Soupe saw 24-year-old Bouhanni hold off Germany's Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Italian Ferrari (Lampre-Merida).

By virtue of his superior finishing position in the 174.5km stage from Algeciras to San Fernando, Spaniard Alejandro Valverde took the race lead from team-mate Jonathan Castroviejo following Movistar's opening day victory in the team time trial at Jerez on Saturday.

A technical finish and the fear of crosswinds meant the teams of race favourites Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) - who both crashed out during last month's Tour de France - rode on the front of the peloton until the final couple of kilometres.

FDJ then took over the reins with aplomb to deliver their man Bouhanni - a triple victory in May's Giro d'Italia but overlooked for the Tour - to a routine victory.

"We worked very hard for this and we were in a good position at the finish," Bouhanni said. "It's a great victory for both me and the whole team. You have got to take your chances when you can because there won't be many better opportunities than that in the race."

In-form Italian Andrea Guardini (Astana) and Slovakian sensation Peter Sagan (Cannondale) were nowhere to be seen in fast finish, with Trek Factory Racing's Jasper Stuyven and Caja Rural's Francenco Lasca completing the top five ahead of Oscar Gatto (Cannondale), Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Tom Boonen (OPQS), Moreno Hofland (Belkin) and Matteo Pelucchi (IAM).

FOUR-MAN BREAK: Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Jacques Van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) and Romain Hardy (Cofidis) formed the day's main break after an early attack. They built up a maximum lead of five minutes as Italian youngster Conti - a late replacement for defending champion Chris Horner - picked up maximum points and bonus seconds in both intermediate sprints.

Van Rensburg was the last man standing, the South African eventually swept up by the peloton with 17km remaining as the riders passed by a collection of sea salt evaporation ponds.

HAAS IN POLKA DOTS: Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka) and Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) were also part of the initial break, the Australian beating the Italian across the only categorised climb of the day before both men slipped back into the peloton.

By crossing the Cat.3 Alto de Cabrito in pole position, Haas ensured that he will wear the first blue polka dot mountains jersey of the race.

RIDE OF THE DAY: Nacer Bouhanni, who cast aside any frostiness with his FDJ team to pick things up exactly where he left off in the Giro with a commanding victory.

DAY TO FORGET: Like Bouhanni, Peter Sagan will be leaving his current team for a fresh challenge at the end of the season. Unlike the Frenchman, Cannondale's Sagan was nowhere to be seen in the finale. Perhaps he was busy keeping Contador - his soon-to-be Tinkoff-Saxo team-mate - out of trouble?

COMING UP: Monday's 198km stage three from Cadiz to Arcos de la Frontera starts on an aircraft carrier and finishes with a ramped finish that should suit riders in the mould of Sagan and Degenkolb. Along the way there are four Cat.3 climbs which could suit a breakaway - but a 50km run into the finish should ensure that the win is contested by a streamlined bunch sprint.

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