The final stage of the Vuelta saw John Degenkolb win his fifth stage in Madrid, but there was no change overall and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Tinkoff) ran out the overall winner of a tumultuous Vuelta.

The final (ten) 4.3 kilometre laps of honour for the 175 riders left in a super-mountainous Vuelta were enlivened by a six rider break – take a bow the irrepressible Kevin Seeldraeyers (is the Astana rider looking for a contract?) Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), Serguy Lagutin (Vacansoleil), Javier Chacon, Sergio Carrasco (both Andalucia) with Javier Aramendia the inevitable Caja Rural escapee.

In fact, it wasn’t the first time that these various riders had taken a flier off the front of the bunch, so fair play to them. There are a few riders finishing the Vuelta who’ve never seen anything but the arse of the rider in front of them for three weeks.

But there were too many teams looking for a bunch gallop and the sextet never got much more than 30 seconds on the 4.3km finishing circuit around Madrid. Not the least of those squads looking for a bunch gallop was Argos Shimano. Before the stage start, John Degenkolb the stand-out sprinter of the Vuelta said he was “really motivated to get five stage wins in a Grand Tour,” so there was no way that Argos Shimano wasn’t going to make one final big effort for the in-form German.

By the time there were two laps to go, Argos Shimano, Rabobank, Liquigas and Sky put some men in the front to let Saxo Bank enjoy the finale in relative comfort. Finally it came down to Argos Shimano in the impressive shape of Koen de Kort leading out Degenkolb with Bennati and Viviani on his wheel and, even though the German led out from a long way, neither the Italians could get round him.

After the line, Degenkolb was delighted and breathless. “I can find no words. Maybe there are none. Just… woah… I’m done. I’m 100 per cent satisfied and there’s no better way to go home now,” said Degenkolb, noting also it was time for a beer.

For Joaquin Rodriguez, his Vuelta misery was complete when Valverde ‘stole’ not just the points jersey from him with his sixth place sprint, but also the Combination jersey too. From leading everything to winning nothing in the space of four days – that has to hurt. Might he gain some consolation at the upcoming World Championships?

Vuelta a Espana 2012, stage 21
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos Shimano 115km in 2-44-57

2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack Nissan
4. Alan Davis (Aus) Orica Green Edge
5. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Garmin Sharp
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
7. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma
8. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma
9. Raymond Kreder (Hol) Garmin Sharp
10. Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi all same time.

Final general classification
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank Tinkoff in 84-59-49

2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1-16
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 1-37
4. Christopher Froome (GBr) at Team Sky at 10-16
5. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha 11-29
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 12-23
7. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp at 13-28
8. Laurens Ten Dam (Hol) Rabobank at 13-41
9. Igor Anton (Sp) Euskaltel at 14-01
10. Benat Intxausti (Sp) Movistar at 16-31
Other
12. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R at 17-50
111. Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky at 2-55-45
121. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky at 3-01-13
156. Steve Cummings (GBr) BMC at 3-27-18
175. Cheng Ji (China) Argos Shimano at 4-32-35

John Degenkolb wins final stage

Movistar, team winners

Andrew Talansky and Christophe Le Mevel

Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador and Joaquin Rodriguez on podium

Simon Clarke is King of the Mountains

Related links

Vuelta a Espana 2012: Coverage index

Vuelta a Espana 2012: Reports
Stage one report: Movistar win team time trial
Stage two report: Degenkolb wins, Swift third
Stage three report: Valverde victorious after Contador attacks
Stage four report: Rodriguez takes over lead after Valverde crashes
Stage five report: Degenkolb wins again
Stage six report: Froome gains time on Contador
Stage seven report: Degenkolb makes it three at Vuelta
Stage eight report: Valverde doubles his score in Andorra
Stage nine report: Gilbert pips Rodriguez in Barcelona
Stage 10 report: Degenkolb continues unbeaten sprint record
Stage 11: Rodriguez hangs onto lead as Kessiakoff wins time trial
Stage 12: Rodriguez wins stage 12 to extend Vuelta lead
Stage 13: Cummings returns to winner’s circle in Spain
Stage 14: Rodriguez stakes claim with Vuelta mountain-top win
Stage 15: Rodriguez rules at Covadonga as Froome loses time
Stage 16: Rodriguez strengthens lead as Froome keeps fourth
Stage 17: Contador turns Vuelta upside down with stunning stage win
Stage 18: Bennati pips Swift to stage win
Stage 19: Gilbert claims win number two in Spain
Stage 20: Menchov takes penultimate Vuelta stage as contenders have one last dig

Vuelta a Espana 2012: Photos
Stage one TTT gallery
Stage two gallery
Stage three gallery
Stage four gallery
Stage five gallery
Stage six gallery
Stage seven gallery
Stage eight gallery
Stage nine gallery
Stage 10 gallery
Stage 11 gallery
Stage 12 gallery
Stage 13 gallery
Stage 14 gallery
Stage 15 gallery
Stage 16 gallery
Stage 17 gallery
Stage 18 gallery
Stage 19 gallery
Stage 20 gallery

Vuelta a Espana 2012: Latest news
Porte puts Olympics snub to the side ahead of Vuelta debut
ITV to show Vuelta highlights
Froome to lead Sky at Vuelta
Degenkolb just can’t stop winning

Vuelta a Espana 2012: Start list
2012 Startlist

Vuelta a Espana 2012: Route info and analysis

Vuelta a Espana 2012 route revealed

Vuelta 2012 route leaves time triallists out in the cold

 

  • Mark N

    How disappointing to see yet another convicted drugs cheat win a grand tour – will cycling NEVER learn its lessons ?? No team manager should be touching Contador with a barge pole, but then, as he rides for Bjarne Riis, the man who won the Tour de France and years later admitted to doing it on drugs, then what do you expect ? It seems the omerta is still in full swing…

    I so wanted Rodriguez to win – at least he hasn’t been tainted by drugs, unlike Contador & Valverde.

    So a year of highs and lows for cycling – great for Bradley with the Tour & his London gold medal, plus Chris Hoy et al at London, and now the low of this and the hideous Vinokourov winning the road race.

    We still have a long way to go. I still believe that lifetime bans are the only way to go – I hope I am proved wrong…

  • David

    Like a knight on a white charger Contador has arrived to deliver us from the Armstrong scandal, to show the world that cycle races can be won clean!