Samuel Sánchez's ambitions in Euskaltel's last ever Grand Tour took a major hit on the race's first summit finish on stage two.
The stage from Pontevedra to Alto de Monte da Groba should on paper have suited 'Samu' and his fellow orange climbers to a tee, but instead Sánchez and his team-mates inexplicably failed to come even close to living up to expectations.
The team leader had to let go of the sizeable lead group with a full seven clicks to go and looked every bit the worried team leader he must surely be in these troubled times for his team. Despite the best efforts of several of his domestiques, by the top he'd ceded a massive 2:41 to stage winner Nicolas Roche and more than two minutes to the majority of his general classification rivals.
It was a sad view to see the team's hopes evaporate in their final appearance in the Vuelta on only the second day, but 'Samu' characteristically refused to push the panic button upon completing the stage.
"This is cycling, this is sport, and sometimes these things happen", he said philosophically. "There's no need to make a big drama out of it - we have to stay calm and keep working.
"It was a bad day. Now we have to look forward; there's still a lot of racing to be done in this race".
The only bright spot of a disheartening day was the performance of Mikel Nieve. The ever-reliable climber didn't look weary from his Tour de France exhaustions and stayed with the main group of leaders that came in 14 seconds down.
Heading into stage three, Nieve is a healthy 30th overall at 1:14.
- (1, Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff), 4:37:09)
- 19, Mikel Nieve, 0:14
- 62, Gorka Verdugo, 2:41
- 63, Igor Antón, s.t.
- 64, Egoi Martínez, s.t.
- 65, Samuel Sánchez, s.t.
- 79, Mikel Landa, 4:05
- 102, Juan José Oroz, 7:47
- 149, Jorge Azanza, 9:53
- 152, Pablo Urtasun, s.t.