Madrid - Rising star Tadej Pogacar took top spot in the Tour of Valencia on Thursday after snatching a tight win in the second stage.
UAE Emirates rider Pogacar, 21, who came third in last year's Vuelta a Espana, saw off the opposition on the final climb towards Cullera to finish just ahead of Movistar old hand Alejandro Valverde and a host of others in four hours, 14 minutes and 21 seconds.
Pogacar also won three stages at the Vuelta, as well as the white jersey for the quickest young rider, and he showed all his ability to hold off 2009 Vuelta winner Valverde.
Belgium's Dylan Teuns finished third, hot on the heels of the top two.
Last year's winner, Ion Izagirre of Astana, finished sixth after a crash that also saw Jumbo-Visma's Tobias Foss suffer a fractured collar bone.
Pogacar leads the general classification with a combined time of eight hours, 22 minutes and nine seconds, with both third-placed Valverde and Teuns in fifth on the same time.
Friday's 175km third stage, between Orihuela and Torreveija, contains just one category two climb and is likely to end in a sprint before Saturday's arrival in the mountains.
Classification of second stage of Tour of Valencia:
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO/UAE) 181km in 4hours 14min 26sec
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) same time
3. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BAH) s.t.
4. Dan Martin (IRL/ISR) s.t.
5. Jack Haig (AUS/MIT) s.t.
General classification after second stage
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO/UAE) 8hours 22min 09sec
2. Jack Haig (AUS/MIT) same time
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t.
4. Ruben Fernandez (ESP/MOV) s.t.
5. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BAH) s.t.