John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) has won the tenth stage of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana.
The German claimed his fourth win of the race by winning a bunch sprint at the end of a flat 166.4km stage from Ponteareas to Sanxenxo.
French road race champion, Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-Big Mat) finished second, while the Italian, Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), was third.
Degenkolb’s superb run of form, which began as early as stage two and continued on stages five and seven, strengthened his hold on the green jersey as leader of the points competition.
He said: “It was a really tough sprint. The stage itself was a lot easier. It was a controlled ride. I’m really happy. So far I have won all the sprints. I feel very good.”
There was no change among the top 10 riders on the general classification.
Race leader, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) maintained his 53-second advantage over Britain’s Chris Froome (Team Sky), who remains seven seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) a further seven seconds behind.
All looks set to change, however, in tomorrow’s time trial, with Froome and Contador fancied to close the gap on Rodriguez, or even replace him in the red jersey.
The 40km course is almost entirely flat, but a category three climb and a challenging descent means that the specialists against the clock may not have it all their own way,
Team Sky looked strong on the run into Sanxenxo, hitting the front with 15km to go, lifting the pace and bringing Froome to a safe position near the front of the bunch.
The Kenyan-born Brit will carry the hopes of the team in the time trial, which Team Sky directeur sportif, Nicolas Portal, described as ‘huge’.
“The whole team will be behind Froomey,” he said.
Vuelta a Espana stage 10 – result
1) John Degenkolb (GER) – Argos-Shimano – 4.47.24
2) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ-Big Mat
3) Daniele Bennati (ITA) – Radioshack-Nissan-Trek
4) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
5) Manuel Cardoso (POR) – Caja Rural
6) Lloyd Mondory (FRA) – AG2R La Mondiale
7) Pim Ligthart (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM
8) Davide Vigano (ITA) – Lampre-ISD
9) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
10) Elia Viviani (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale
1) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) –Katusha – 39.32.23
2) Christopher Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +53”
3) Alberto Contador (SPA) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank +1.00
4) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar +1.07
5)Robert Gesink (NED) – Rabobank +2.01
6) Daniel Moreno (SPA) – Katusha +2.08
7) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – AG2R-La Mondiale +2.34
8) Igor Anton (SPA) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +3.07
9) Laurens Ten Dam (NED) – Rabobank +3.18
10) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Rabobank +3.27