Italian Kristian Sbaragli upset more established names to win stage ten of the Vuelta a Espana in Castellon yesterday.
With Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) out after Saturday’s collision with an in-race motorbike, John Degenkolb was hoping for victory in the 146.6-kilometres stage from Valencia.
The remnants of the day’s 40-man breakaway were swept up with 4km to go as Degenkolb’s Giant-Alpecin team set the pace.
But it was Sbaragli who won the sprint to give MTN-Qhubeka another Grand Tour success, after Steve Cummings’ Tour de France stage win.
The 25-year-old MTN-Qhubeka rider said he was delighted with his first Vuelta stage win because he’d lost a sprint to Degenkolb two days earlier.
“I needed to anticipate Degenkolb’s final charge because I knew he was a bit faster than I,” Sbaragli said. “I risked it two stages ago and he shot past me with just 30 metres (yards) to go.”
German Degenkolb was second and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) of Spain third.
Dutchman Niki Terpstra had held a ten-second lead late in the stage but was caught as the chasing group began to ascend the Alto del Desierto summit, leading to the mass sprint for the finishing line.
There was better news for Degenkolb’s team-mate Tom Dumoulin, as the Dutchman kept the race leader’s red jersey.
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is 57 seconds behind in second and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) two seconds further back in third. Team Sky’s Irish rider Nicolas Roche is fourth, 1min 7secs adrift and Britain’s Tour de France winner Chris Froome, also of Team Sky, is eighth, 1:18 adrift.
Nairo Quintana is one second and one place better off than Froome.
Today is a rest day, with racing resuming on Wednesday with a fearsome 138km 11th stage from Andorra la Vella to Cortals d’Encamp. Race organisers have labelled the route as the toughest stage to ever feature in the Vuelta, with six mountain passes and “not a single moment of respite”.