DUITAMA, Colombia (AFP) — Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Molano continued United Arab Emirates (UAE) Team Emirates’ impressive start to the season by sprinting to victory on the second stage of the Tour Colombia on Wednesday as reigning Tour de France champion Egan Bernal finished safely in the pack.
Ecuador’s Jonathan Caicedo retained the leader’s yellow jersey he claimed when his EF Pro Cycling squad won Tuesday’s opening team time-trial after also finishing in the peloton.
Molano, 25, powered home ahead of compatriot Alvaro Hodeg at the end of the 152-kilometer stage from Paipa to Duitama, with Israel’s Itamar Einhorn in third.
“The team did an amazing job, I’m delighted to have redeemed myself and returned to winning ways,” Molano, who had some time off last year due to a broken hand, told ESPN.
“There are still several stages to come… I’ll be calmer because I know I’ve already won and I don’t have this pressure any more so I can work better.”
Fellow Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria won three stages for UAE in the Tour de San Juan in Argentina a couple of weeks ago.
Caicedo maintained his lead in the overall standings ahead of three teammates on the same time, including Colombian pair Sergio Higuita and Daniel Martinez who are expected to challenge for the final victory.
“I’m going to make the most of this jersey for as long as I can, but at the same time if I can fight to the end, I’ll be there,” Caicedo said.
“The main aim is to win the Tour Colombia with whichever one of us three, it doesn’t matter if it’s Higuita, Martinez or myself.”
Bernal, the inaugural winner of this race two years ago, moved up to eighth in the overall standings at 46 seconds, one place ahead of Ineos teammate and reigning Giro d’Italia champion Richard Carapaz of Ecuador.
Thursday’s third stage covers 177 kilometers from Paipa to Sogamoso and includes two fourth category climbs.