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Fabio Aru (Astana) confirmed his overall title in the Vuelta a España on Sunday as John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) won the final stage.
The 98km finale took the peloton from Alcalá de Henares Madrid for to 10 laps around a 5.8km circuit.
A six-man break went away, containing Benjamin King (Cannondale-Garmin); Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r La Mondiale); Omar Fraile (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA); Laurent Pichon (FDJ); Carlos Verona (Etixx-Quick-Step); Giovanni Visconti (Movistar).
But the escapees were pulled back inside the final 10km, and though Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Alexis Geogeard (AG2R La Mondiale) tried to steal a march on the sprinters, it was never going to happen. And in the end, it was Degenkolb taking the sprint ahead of Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) and Jempy Drucker (BMC Racing Team).
On the overall, it was Aru ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) by 57 seconds with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) third at 1:09.
Top 10, Stage 21
- 1. John DEGENKOLB, TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN, in 2:34:13
- 2. Danny VAN POPPEL, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :00
- 3. Jean-Pierre DRUCKER, BMC RACING TEAM, at :00
- 4. Daryl IMPEY, ORICA, at :00
- 5. Tosh VAN DER SANDE, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00
- 6. Maximiliano Ariel RICHEZE, LAMPRE-MERIDA, at :00
- 7. Nikolas MAES, ETIXX-QUICK STEP, at :00
- 8. Kristian SBARAGLI, MTN-QHUBEKA, at :00
- 9. Kévin REZA, FDJ, at :00
- 10. Tom VAN ASBROECK, TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO, at :00
Top 10, GC
- 1. Fabio ARU, ASTANA PRO TEAM, in 85:36:13
- 2. Joaquim RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, TEAM KATUSHA, at :57
- 3. Rafal MAJKA, TINKOFF-SAXO, at 1:09
- 4. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:42
- 5. Johan Esteban CHAVES RUBIO, ORICA, at 3:10
- 6. Tom DUMOULIN, TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN, at 3:46
- 7. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 6:47
- 8. Mikel NIEVE ITURALDE, TEAM SKY, at 7:06
- 9. Daniel MORENO FERNANDEZ, TEAM KATUSHA, at 7:12
- 10. Louis MEINTJES, MTN-QHUBEKA, at 10:26
“I’m very emotional today. I’m very proud,” said Aru, who thanked his team for “an amazing job.”
Degenkolb said the stage win “means a lot.”
“We had a big, big disappointment yesterday,” he said. “We lost the jersey. It was a huge disappointment for the team. Now we can go home with a positive feeling. We still made an awesome Vuelta.”
Tom Dumoulin, who surrendered the jersey in the penultimate stage, said Degenkolb’s win softened the blow of his personal disappointment.
“He worked so hard for me in the last three weeks and he made efforts that maybe other sprinters wouldn’t do,” he said.
“I am really happy that he won and that we helped him today. I cannot be unhappy today. It is a really nice end of the Vuelta.”
Majka was another young rider to impress, making the most of the opportunity to lead Tinkoff-Saxo in the absence of last year’s Vuelta winner, Alberto Contador.
“After the Tour de France it is not easy to be the leader but I had the opportunity and I took it,” said Majka.
“I hope to keep improving. First we have Alberto Contador, I need to still learn and maybe for the future continue to get better.”
As for Rodriguez, he pronounced himself “very happy” with his runner-up finish.
“I think I had a successful Vuelta,” he said. “I took second place on the final podium, won an important mountain stage, for one day took the red jersey, and won the white jersey. I am 36 and I’m still among the best of the best. It is a pleasure to know this.”
Editor’s note: Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.