Andreas Kron took the second stage of the Vuelta Espana on Sunday while Andrea Piccolo grabbed the overall lead after a "difficult" day.
It was an emotional victory for Kron, who rides for a Lotto-Dstny team mourning the death of first-year professional cyclist Tijl De Decker on Friday after a training crash.
"It was a crazy and difficult day," said Kron.
His team-mate Lennert Van Eetvelt struggled to control his emotions as he spoke at the finish line.
"Really great to win after what happened a few days ago," he told Eurosport.
"It's weird...we're happy we won but we want to take a moment to think about what happened."
⏪ Lluvia, los primeros fugados y un ataque potente de Andreas Kron... 🎬 ¡Revive todo en 1 minuto!
⏪ Rain, the first breakaway and a powerful attack by Andreas Kron... 🎬 Relive it all in 1 minute!@gorouvy #LaVuelta23 pic.twitter.com/bGWvy880Fg — La Vuelta (@lavuelta) August 27, 2023
The stage effectively had two finish lines, one atop Montjuic and one nine kilometres earlier.
After a downpour payed havoc with the opening team time trial round Barcelona on Saturday, and with more rain forecast on Sunday, organisers ruled before the start that times for the general classification would be taken at the foot of the tricky final climb.
Piccolo, an Italian, who rides for EF Education who were third on Saturday, was part of a long breakaway.
As rain began to fall again the riders entered Barcelona at the end of a 182km run from Mataro, the peloton eased off its pursuit.
That allowed Piccolo to reach the 9km mark with enough of an advantage to take the overall lead from compatriot Lorenzo Milesi, one of several riders who crashed during the stage. Milesi eventually crossed the line nearly 14 minutes after Kron.
❤️ ¿Se imaginaba Andrea Piccolo vestir La Roja? 🚴♂️ La fuga le ha dado esa oportunidad. ¡Disfruta del minuto de La Roja!
❤️ Could you have imagined Andrea Piccolo wearing La Roja? ⚡️ The breakaway gave him that opportunity. Enjoy the La Roja minute!@CarrefourES… pic.twitter.com/N3xYjm77Uh — La Vuelta (@lavuelta) August 27, 2023
"Really slippery a lot of tension coming through," said French rider Romain Bardet, one of Milesi's DSM team-mates who started the day tied for the lead. "Two races in one. Really hectic."
Piccolo was swallowed by the pack a kilometre later. The leading contenders were then ambushed by Kron.
The Dane escaped up the wooded hillside to win, collecting both the climbing and winner's bonuses.
'PAWNS IN THE GAME'
Australian sprinter Kaden Groves led a small chasing group across the line in second while the leading contenders, their times already decided at 9km, rolled in together after opting to play it safe.
Groves said there had been an argument in the peloton over whether to chase the breakaway on increasingly slippery roads, with the teams of the leading contenders wanting the pack to slow down.
"They were trying to take the initiative to calm the bunch down," said Groves.
"A little awkward with ourselves and DSM trying to close the breakaway. Today was a chance for us and we had to race and they didn't appreciate it.
"Sometimes crashes happen we're willing to take that risk to take our chance."
Several of the leading contenders were unhappy before the day's start.
"I don't if it's the organisation, but it seems they don't care about our safety at all," Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard, whose Jumbo-Visma team took it easy in Saturday's rain and finished ninth fastest, losing 32 seconds to DSM.
Saturday's stage also finished in near darkness after a late start.
"It was crazy, especially for the last few teams. It wasn't ideal, " said former winner Geraint Thomas
The Welshman's Ineos team lost Lauren de Plus, who crashed early on Saturday's stage, and Thomas complained that the riders were "just pawns in the game" with "television and money a greater priority for organisers.
🏆 Podio etapa 2⃣ | Podium stage 2⃣
❤️ 🇮🇹 Andrea Piccolo - @EFprocycling
💚 @andreaskron98 - @lotto_dstny
💙 @MatteoSobrero - @GreenEDGEteam
🤍 🇮🇹 Andrea Piccolo - @EFprocycling#LaVuelta23 pic.twitter.com/jvE7HHz9x9 — La Vuelta (@lavuelta) August 27, 2023