Kristian Sbaragli sprinted to MTN-Qhubeka’s second Grand Tour stage win of the year on stage ten of the Vuelta a Espana.
The Italian followed up Britain’s Steve Cummings’ Tour de France stage success by outsprinting John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) at the end of a fast-paced final stage before the rest day.
Degenkolb had been favourite for the stage, with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) out of the race and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) abandoning during the stage but it was the Italian who claimed victory in Castellon.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) ensured he would carry the red jersey into the first rest day, meanwhile, after finishing safely in the bunch on a day which saw no breakaway given any room for manoeuvre.
Indeed it was some 25km into the stage, on the day’s first climb, before anybody managed to go clear and when they did it was a group of 40 riders with all teams represented.
A lack of cohesion meant their advantage was never much more than one minute, however, and the race was back together with 55km remaining after a string of attacks off the front failed to come to anything.
Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) was next to try his luck, but it was not until the category-two Puerto del Desierto de las Palmas, 16km from the finish, that another move went clear.
When it did, it was Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing) it was went, followed by Romain Sicard (Team Europcar) and, from a distance, Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) and Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling).
Dumoulin kept a watchful eye on the front of the bunch, however, cresting the climb just 30 seconds behind what had become a leading trio of De Marchi, Sicard and Elissonde.
As the road flattened out, it quickly became apparent it would be a bunch sprint for the stage though, and the three were swept up by the rampaging peloton as they headed towards a messy finale.
Sprint trains were distinctly lacking in the absence of many of the big-name fast men but it was Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) who led the sprint out.
Sbaragli charged past, however, with Degenkolb – who had gone from further back – gaining by the pedal stroke.
The German’s bid for another Vuelta stage win on his palmares will have to wait, however, as his effort proved to be too late – Sbaragli getting his arms in the air for the biggest win of his career.
Vuelta a Espana 2015: stage ten – result
1) Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) – MTN-Qhubeka – 3.12.43hrs
2) John Degenkolb (GER) – Giant-Alpecin – ST
3) Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) – Movistar
4) Tosh van der Sande (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
5) Jose Goncalves (POR) – Caja Rural-Seguros
6) Matteo Montaguti (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
7) Jens Keukeleire (BEL) – Orica-GreenEDGE
8) Daryl Impey (RSA) – Orica-GreenEDGE
9) Pieter Serry (BEL) – Etixx-QuickStep
10) Valerio Conti (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
1) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin – 38.34.56hrs
2) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +57”
3) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE +59”
4) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Team Sky +1.07
5) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +1.13
6) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +1.17
7) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar – ST
8) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +1.18
9) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.47
10) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +1.52