Italian Kristian Sbaragli claimed his first Grand Tour victory in a sprint finish to Monday’s 10th stage of Spain’s Vuelta.
The MTN Qhubeka rider beat the pre-stage favourite, Germany’s John Degenkolb, into second place with Spain’s Jose Joaquin Rojas third to win the 146.6km ride from Valencia to Castellon in a time of 3hr 12min 43sec.
There were no major changes in the fight for the general classification so the Netherlands’ Tom Dumoulin maintains the red jersey by 57 seconds from Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez with Colombia’s Esteban Chaves two seconds further back in third.
“I tried to get in front of Degenkolb because he is stronger and had passed me on other stages,” said Sbaragli.
“I have to take a risk to win and it is a dream for me to get the first win of my career.”
Chris Froome, who is aiming to become just the third man to win the Tour de France and the Vuelta in the same year, remains 1min 18sec off the lead in eighth.
However, it wasn’t an easy day for his Team Sky team-mates as Nicholas Roche and Sergio Henao both suffered crashes.
Roche, though, recovered to remain fourth in the overall standings.
Henao had been part of a 40-man breakaway group, but his presence forced Dumoulin’s Giant-Alpecin team to push the pace in the peloton to prevent the breakaway gaining too much ground.
With the peloton grouped together after the day’s major climb up the category two Alto del Desierto de Las Palmas, the stage seemed set for Degenkolb, who won four stages at last year’s Vuelta.
Australian Caleb Ewan, winner of the fifth stage, had abandoned the race earlier in the day joining the likes of Nacer Bouhanni and Peter Sagan as potential threats already to Degenkolb to have already withdrawn.
However, Sbaragli held off a late push for the line by the German to seal a first win at the Vuelta for MTN Qhubeka to go with their debut win at the Tour de France last month thanks to Steve Cummings.
After the first rest day of the race on Tuesday, Wednesday’s daunting 138km 11th stage through Andorra includes six categorised climbs with the threat of rain making for an even more eventful stage than planned.
“It is maybe the hardest stage I am ever going to do,” said Dumoulin.
“It will be very hard, but I will try my best. I don’t mind the rain but hopefully it is not too bad.”
Results from the 10th stage of Spain’s Vuelta, a 146.6km ride from Valencia to Castellon on Monday:
1. Kristian Sbaragli (ITA/MTN) 3hr 12min 43sec, 2. John Degenkolb (GER/GIA) at same time, 3. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) s.t., 4. Tosh Van der Sande (BEL/LOT) s.t., 5. Jose Goncalves (POR/CJR) s.t., 6. Matteo Montaguti (ITA/ALM) s.t., 7. Jens Keukeleire (BEL/ORI) s.t., 8. Daryl Impey (RSA/ORI) s.t., 9. Pieter Serry (BEL/ETI) s.t., 10. Valerio Conti (ITA/LAM) s.t., 11. Julien Simon (FRA/COF) s.t., 12. Timo Roosen (NED/LNL) s.t., 13. Maxime Bouet (FRA/ETI) s.t., 14. Gianluca Brambilla (ITA/ETI) s.t., 15. Jempy Drucker (LUX/BMC) s.t., 16. Daniele Bennati (ITA/TIN) s.t., 17. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) s.t., 18. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) s.t., 19. Eduard Vorganov (RUS/KAT) s.t.., 20. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) s.t.
23. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) s.t., 24. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) s.t., 25. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) s.t., 26. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) s.t., 34. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) s.t., 36. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) s.t., 37. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t., 39. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SKY) s.t.
1. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) 38h34min 56sec, 2. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) at 0:57sec, 3. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) 0:59, 4. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SKY) 1min 07sec, 5. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 1:13, 6. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 1:17, 7. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 1:17, 8. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 1:18, 9. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 1:47, 10. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 1:52, 11. Mikel Nieve (ESP/SKY) 2:17, 12. Louis Meintjies (RSA/MTN) 2:25, 13. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 2:26, 14. Gianluca Brambilla (ITA/ETI) 3:46, 15. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 4:04, 16. Bart De Clercq (BEL/LOT) 4:28, 17. Andre Cardoso (POR/CAN) 4:43, 18. Romain Sicard (FRA/EUC) 4:47, 19. Daniel Navarro (ESP/COF) 5:07, 20. Fabrice Jeandesboz (FRA/EUC) 5:26.
– Agence France-Presse