Colombian Molano claims home tour stage win, Bernal stays in hunt

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Duitama (Colombia) (AFP)

Colombia's Juan Sebastian Molano continued 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 152km 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 team-mates 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," said Caicedo, 26.

"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 46sec, one place ahead of Ineos team-mate and reigning Giro d'Italia champion Richard Carapaz of Ecuador.

Thursday's third stage covers 177km from Paipa to Sogamoso and includes two fourth category climbs.

The entire six-day tour is raced at above 2,500m with Sunday's finale ending on the climb to the Puerto de El Verjon at 3,290m.