Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) recovered from a late tyre change to win stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana.
The Dutchman, 22, claimed his first Grand Tour stage win – and Trek’s second of the race after Jasper Stuyven’s stage eight victory – as the breakaway was caught very late on.
Trek had done much of the chasing to reel back, but it looked as though it might be in vain as the Maxime Bouet (Etixx-QuickStep) and Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka) led under the flamme rouge.
Van Poppel and his team-mates had other ideas, however, with the Dutchman picking a good line down the middle to outsprint Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal).
Fabio Aru (Astana), meanwhile, was safely in the bunch to ensure he keeps the red jersey for another day.
The stage, a downhill affair from Andorra, had proved to be the calm after the storm after the epic battle in the mountains on stage 11.
With Chris Froome (Team Sky) absent from the startline, as a result of a broken foot he suffered when crashing early the previous day, the breakaway formed early.
Bouet and Venter were joined by Miguel Angel Rubiano (Colombia) and breakaway regulars Bert-Jan Lindeman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and with no threat to Aru’s overall lead they were allowed to go clear.
Astana controlled the chase briefly but were happy to sit up and allow the sprint teams – notably Trek and Giant-Alpecin, the latter for John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), to hit the front instead.
The gap continued to hold to the leaders, however, who worked well together throughout the stage and when van Poppel called for the team car with just ten kilometres remaining it looked as though the chase was going to be thwarted.
Trek continued to stick riders on the front, however, with others leading van Poppel back to the bunch, and that proved to be vital as the sprinters burst past Bouet and Venter on the final, uphill stretch to the line.
Impey went first, but it was van Poppel who accelerated to victory through the middle to open his Grand Tour stage account.
Degenkolb, meanwhile, was blocked in meaning he still has to wait for his first Grand Tour stage win of the season and a chance to add to his nine previous victories at the Vuelta.
Vuelta a Espana 2015: stage 12 – result
1) Danny van Poppel (NED) – Trek Factory Racing – 4.02.11hrs
2) Daryl Impey (RSA) – Orica-GreenEGDE – ST
3) Tosh van der Sande (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
4) Nikolas Maes (BEL) – Etixx-QuickStep
5) John Degenkolb (GER) – Giant-Alpecin
6) Jean-Pierre Drucker (LUX) – BMC Racing
7) Tom van Asbroeck (BEL) – Team LottoNL-Jumbo
8) Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) – MTN-Qhubeka
9) Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) – Movistar
10) Leonardo Duque (COL) – Colombia
1) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana – 47.14.30hrs
2) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +27”
3) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin +30”
4) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.28
5) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE +1.29
6) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +1.52
7) Daniel Moreno (ESP) – Katusha +1.54
8) Mikel Nieve (ESP) – Team Sky +1.58
9) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +3.07
10) Louis Meintjes (RSA) – MTN-Qhubeka +4.15