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John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) won his second stage in the Vuelta a España, sprinting to victory in stage 5′s punchy finale in Ronda.
The 25-year-old German confirmed his late-season form, surviving a surprise effort by Tinkoff-Saxo to split the field in the crosswinds, then charging up the final hill to win.
Degenkolb also showed his canny instinct, shutting the door on Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr), who tried to shoot the gap between the Giant-Shimano rider and the barriers. Though Bouhanni adamantly protested in the finale — waving his arms several times in frustration — and also appealed to race officials, Degenkolb remained the outright winner.
“I don’t think I changed my line,” said Degenkolb. “I stayed from the beginning on the right and if he wants to pass he has to go on the left side because there was enough space.”
Despite Tinkoff-Saxo’s efforts in the crosswinds, the GC picture remained relatively unchanged. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) kept the overall lead. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) remains second, although he slipped to 13 seconds behind, and teammate Alejandro Valverde is now 20 seconds behind.
Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) both remain in the top-10 overall after the day’s 180 kilometers of racing.
Thirty kilometers into the stage, two riders got away from the peloton, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol).
The field’s chasing efforts were sporadic, with FDJ.fr shaving the lead down to 1:30, then letting it go out to 2:30. To an extent, this corresponded with the bonus sprints, which were contested by FDJ.fr’s Bouhanni.
With 70 kilometers remaining, Martin suffered a mechanical and was reabsorbed by the peloton, leaving Ligthart alone on the front.
Perhaps signaling his form and intent, Chris Froome (Sky) attacked and earned a two-second time bonus at the sprint in Campillos.
Crosswinds lead to split peloton
At 40 kilometers to go, Tinkoff-Saxo took to the front on a slight descent and split the field in the crosswinds, catching out a number of riders, including Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal and Andrew Talansky.
Ligthart was quickly caught by the field due to the increased pace.
Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), and Froome all made the front group.
Race leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and fellow sprinters Bouhanni and Degenkolb bridged the gap to make the front peloton as well.
The gap between the front peloton and those off the back extended to 1:35 at the top of the final climb with 14 kilometers to go.
Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky both pushed the pace on the front, keeping the pressure on the group in arrears.
With two kilometers remaining, Sky was firmly ensconced on the front, stringing out the bunch.
BMC took control with 1.5km to go, setting up Philippe Gilbert for the sprint.
Just after the red kite, the peloton squeezed through a chicane, aiding BMC’s efforts to string out the field.
Gilbert sat in perfect position at third wheel, coming into the base of a short rise to the line with 500 meters left.
Koen de Kort (Giant-Shimano) lost his leader, Degenkolb, in the run-in, and took a stab at the finale on his own.
Gilbert quickly came around the Dutchman and looked to have the win in his pocket with only a few hundred meters remaining.
But then, wearing the sprinter’s green jersey, Degenkolb emerged on the left side of the field, blasting up the edge of the finish chute.
Bouhanni tried to shoot the gap, but wasn’t able to come between the German and the barriers.
Degenkolb took the win, but not without visible protestations from Bouhanni, who seemed to think that the Giant-Shimano rider deviated from his line.
The Vuelta takes on its first summit finish Thursday on a 167.1km stage from Benalmádena to La Zubia, a category 1 climb. It will likely be Matthews’ last day in the leader’s jersey. “I’m going to try and enjoy it tomorrow as much as possible,” he said. “I think from the start it is going to be pretty difficult because I think a lot of the guys are going to want to go in the breakaway because it is possible to stay away.
“Putting on the red jersey for the last day tomorrow is going to be pretty emotional. It has been a really good journey so far with the jersey the last couple of days and I have really enjoyed it.”
The post Degenkolb takes second win in a row in Vuelta a Espana’s stage 5 appeared first on VeloNews.com.
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RONDA, Spain (VN) — The rumor mill was churning during the Tour de France that Edvald Boasson Hagen was heading to Tinkoff-Saxo. With team owner Oleg Tinkov opening his checkbook, big names, such as Peter Sagan, are heading to the team.
On Wednesday, however, there was a bombshell of sorts. The 27-year-old Norwegian is instead bound for professional-continental team MTN-Qhubeka.
The news first broke on Norwegian TV, which follows Boasson Hagen’s every move, and was later confirmed by team management during stage 5 at the Vuelta a España.
MTN-Qhubeka sport director Manel La Cambra confirmed during the broadcast on Spanish television that Boasson Hagen is set to join the team, through 2016.
“He is a big rider, and he will help us in the classics and the grand tours,” La Cambra said on TVE. “It’s big news for the team.”
Moments later, the team released an official confirmation of the news.
“We believe he is one of the best riders in the world and we look forward to seeing him achieve great results for himself as well as mentor our young African talents,” said team principal Douglas Ryder in a press release. “We want to become one of the best teams in the world to assist the African riders to get into the biggest races in cycling, and this is a huge step in that direction.”
The team is already making history as the first African-registered team to race in a grand tour at this Vuelta. With the arrival of Boasson Hagen, the team’s profile will rise even more.
Boasson Hagen, 27, seemed to have been stuck in a rut at Team Sky. With the British squad putting nearly all of its focus on grand tours, the once-prolific Boasson Hagen has reverted into a helper’s role for most of the season. After winning stages in both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia in previous years, he is winless so far in 2014.
Turning down offers from WorldTour teams, Boasson Hagen instead chose MTN-Qhubeka.
“It’s been five great seasons with Team Sky, but the time has come to seek new challenges. MTN-Qhubeka has a very good platform and a framework that fits me very well, so I´m sure this is a very good choice for the next seasons,” he said in a team release. “For next year they are targeting the Tour. So I feel safe about the race program, and I really look forward to focus on new goals in the MTN-Qhubeka jersey.”
Boasson Hagen’s arrival will also give a huge boost to MTN-Qhubeka’s hopes to race the 2015 Tour de France.
Editor’s Note: This video is courtesy of Global Cycling Network. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.
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