Although a question remained over their form and neither talked up their chances before the race, noone expected Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) and Richie Porte (BMC) to lose so much time on only the second stage.
Nibali came home just over four minutes behind stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to sit almost five minutes down on race leader Michal Kwiatksowski (Sky). Porte is over 14 minutes in deficit and it's a similar gap for team mate Rohan Dennis (+13:31).
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) managed to contain his losses to just over a minute (now 1:31 behind Kwiatksowski) after crashing earlier on the stage. Later tests showed no signs of fractures and he plans to start Stage 3.
Dan Martin (UAE) didn't have a terrible day but slipped a little down the general classification after losing one minute and 15 seconds on the stage.
Nibali's team mate Ion Izagirre improved his position to fifth and riders like Rigoberto Uran and Simon Yates finished strongly to maintain their positions overall, but perhaps the biggest winner today was Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who moved up into ninth from 34th overall while maintaining his 30 second deficit to the race leader.
The main contenders after La Vuelta a Espana Stage 2:
1. Michal Kwiatksowski (Sky)
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +14
3. Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) +25
5. Ion Izagirre (Bahrain Merida) +30
9. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +33
10. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +35
11. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL Jumbo) +37
12. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +37
14. Rafal Majka (Bora) +42
16. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +43
18. George Bennett (LottoNL Jumbo) +45
19. Fabio Aru (UAE) +47
20. Rigoberto Uran (EF Drapac) +48
24. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) +50
25. David De La Cruz (Sky) +53
26. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +54
38. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) +1:31
45. Dan Martin (UAE) +38 - +1:53