Monday August 31
Valencia / Castellón - 146.6km
1st – Kristian Sbaragi, MTN - Qhebeka p/b Samsung
2nd – John Degenkolb, Giant - Alpecin
3rd – José Joaquin Rojas Gil, Team Movistar
General Classification – Tom Dumoulin, Giant - Alpecin
Points Classification - Esteban Chaves, Orica-GreenEDGE
Best Climber – Omar FRAILE, Caja Rural Seguros RGA
Combined Jersey - Tom Dumoulin, Giant - Alpecin
Most Combative Rider - Carlos Verona Quintanilla, Ettix - Quick Step
Team Competition - Team Sky
Stage 10 of the Vuelta a Espana was a nervous day for the peloton, but it went to script in the end with a bunch sprint and no major dramas leading into the first rest day. Ten hard stages had taken their toll on the peloton with only 40 riders holding on until the finish, the final category 2 climb of the day having thinned out the majority of the field.
At 146.6km the stage was relatively short and was always going to be fast, but an average speed of 45.6kph gives you an indication of the intensity of today's race. A huge group of riders went up the road early, 37 in total, but they were given no space at all by the main group, the lead not extending beyond two minutes.
The category 2 climb of the Alto del Desierto de La Palmas looked to be making of the stage as Alessandro de Marchi of BMC Racing Team, Romain Sicard of Team Europcar and Kenny Elissonde of FDJ broke away. The three tried hard but with almost 20 km's still remaining in the stage they were never going to stay away.
Approaching the finish line the peloton had been cut to approximately 40 riders and Giant - Alpecin were in control.
As much success as they have had so far in the Vuelta, they were still looking to get their sprinter John Degenkolb a victory. The team looked to have set up the final sprint perfectly for Degenkolb, but closing in on the line he was caught too far back and left his sprint too late. His finishing speed would not be enough to close the gap to Kristian Sbaragi of MTN - Qhebeka p/b Samsung who held off the far more experienced sprinter for the teams first Vuelta win. The victory marks the 24 year old's first ever European UCI win and was clearly an emotional one, Sbaragi holding back tears on the podium.
"I was feeling really well on the climb and just didn’t want to miss out again. I came so close a few times already in this Vuelta, so I decided to wait until 200 meters to go before leaving it all out there. It’s sensational, something I never tasted before. This win is good for our team, but especially for Qhubeka and our 5,000 bikes campaign," said Sbaragi.
Head Sports Director of MTN - Qhebeka p/b Samsung, Jens Zemke was full of praise for the young sprinter, "it’s unbelievable, a milestone performance for Kristian. He rode really well in the first couple of days, but felt disappointed after his near misses. Today he did everything right and managed to get the team’s second Grand-Tour stage win this year. It’s a great moment for us as a team."
The riders now get a well deserved rest after stage 10 and they are going to need every second of it, with stage 11 looking more like a torture test than a bike race. The stage crosses six summits and climbs over 4,000m in only 138km!
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Thanks Graham Watson for yet another great pic!