John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) has won stage five of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana.
The 23-year-old German won his second stage of the race by outsprinting Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) and Gianni Meersman (Lotto Belisol) at the end of a flat, 168km stage formed of laps of 21km laps around Logroño.
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) remains in the red jersey of race leader after a welcome day of respite for the GC contenders, one second ahead of Britain’s Chris Froome (Team Sky), who remains second overall.
Froome’s teammate, Ben Swift, a graduate of British Cycling’s famed academy, and world scratch race champion, finished 21st after starting his sprint early for the second time in a week.
Degenkolb maintained the contrast by unleashing another perfectly timed effort after depriving Swift of victory on stage two. The German reeled in and passed Bennati when it looked as if he had left matters too late.
Today was always going to be one for the sprinters and while most of the climber-led GC squads, Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank squad among them, claimed a day’s rest, Team Sky stirred in the closing 30km in support of Swift.
Directeur sportif, Nicholas Portal, said: “Swifty did well to move into position. In the sprint it was tightening up and there was a bit of contact but he didn’t quite have the kick at the end.”
Tomorrow’s sixth stage, at just under 175km, will provide a sterner test than today’s extended criterium, and will feature two third category climbs in the final 20km.
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Vuelta a Espana stage five – result
1) John Degenkolb (GER) – Argos-Shimano – 4.10.37
2) Daniele Bennati (ITA) – Radioshack-Nissan-Trek
3) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
4) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ-Big Mat
5) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale
6) Raymond Kreder (NED) – Garmin-Sharp
7) Allan Davis (AUS) – Orica-GreenEdge
8) Lloyd Mondory (FRA) – AG2R-La Mondiale
9) Leonardo Duque (COL) – Cofidis-Le Credit En Ligne
10) Pim Ligthart (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM
1) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha – 17.29.22
2) Christopher Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +1”
3) Alberto Contador (SPA) – Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank +5”
4) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Rabobank +9”
5) Robert Gesink (NED) – Rabobank
6) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Team Sky +11”
7) Daniel Moreno (SPA) – Katusha +14”
8) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – AG2R-La Mondiale +24”
9) Alejandro Valverde (Spa) – Movistar +36”
10) Laurens Ten Dam (NED) – Rabobank +46”