Germany’s John Degenkolb won the fifth stage of the Vuelta a Espaa after edging ahead of Italy’s Daniele Bennati in the final seconds while Spain’s Joaquin Rodriguez held on to the overall lead. Degenkolb of Argos-Shimano, who also won the second stage, finished the 168-kilometer (104-mile) ride that began and ended in the northern city of Logrono in 4:10:37. Bennati of Radioshack-Nissan launched a sprint in the final minutes and managed to open up a significant gap but in the final meters Degenkolb picked up speed and inched ahead of the Italian at the finish line.
“It was unbelievable it was so fast. My team delivered me perfectly and I just did the sprint in the final 200 meters,” Degenkolb said of the final kilometer of the race. “It was a relatively easy win with a lot of tension in the final kilometers. Two victories in five days. It’s incredible,” he added.
The previous two stages included hilltop finishes and Wednesday’s urban circuit in Logrono allowed for a rare chance for sprinters to shine during this year’s race. Temperatures in Logrono hit 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit). Rodriguez finished safely in the peloton to hold on to the overall leaders’ red jersey for the second straight day as well as keeping his one-second advantage over Chris Froome of Team Sky.
“Today’s stage has gone well except at the end which was really stressful, especially the last lap,” said Rodriguez.
Spain’s Alberto Contador, who is racing for the first time since a doping suspension, is in third place in the overall standings, five seconds behind the leader.
Thursday’s stage will take the riders from Tarazona to Jaca, a distance of 175.4 kilometers that includes two virtually back-to-back third category climbs.