Vuelta diary, Stage 7: Degenkolb does it again
After outstanding sprint stage victories in Stages 2 and 5 of this year’s Vuelta a Espana, John Degenkolb has done it again after edging out Italian, Elia Viviani of Liquigas by the slimmest of margins, to take his 3rd Stage victory in the space of a remarkable 6 days.
It was a fantastic victory for the emerging German sprinter, who was forced to come from behind after superior lead outs by teams such as Orica GreenEdge, Sky and Liquigas for their sprinters, Allan Davis, Ben Swift and Elia Viviani respectively.
Nonetheless, Degenkolb dug deep and overpowered his rivals in what is possibly the best sprinting performance of the cycling year, thus far.
Earlier in the stage a four man breakaway consisting of relatively unknown riders was formed. In a flat stage such as this featuring no categorized climbs, the breakaway never really stood a chance and they were cleaned up by a peloton that was exhilarating fast towards the finish line, with about 15km to go.
Later in the stage, a body tingling crash occurred about halfway down the main field with only 9km to go. Luckily it only involved 6 riders, none of which were contenders for the stage or the general classification.
But let’s not worry about, let’s focus on the star rider of this year’s Vuelta so far: John Degenkolb. After winning Stage 5, I predicted an ensuing battle between Degenkolb and fellow 22 year old Sprint star, Peter Sagan at the 2013 Tour de France in my Stage 5, Vuelta diary.
After winning Stage 7 in spectacular fashion, I am even more convinced of my previous thoughts and strongly believe that Degenkolb could very possibly take the green jersey at the 2013 Tour de France.
Whilst one may believe that that prediction is outrageous as Degenkolb has only produced at this year’s Vuelta, take a look at the story of Peter Sagan.
Unknown to many cycling fans before the 2011 Vuelta a Espana the 22 year old won three stages in the Spanish Grand Tour, before going on to win 3 stages at the 2012 Tour de France.
Like the 2011 Vuelta a Espana was Sagan’s breakthrough moment, this is Degenkolb’s and it could spring him to greatness at next year’s Tour de France.
Stage 8 is the 3rd mountain stage of this year’s Vuelta, comprising of a 174km journey from Lleida to Andorra Collada de la Gallina. The tough stage features a 4 kilometre category 2 climb just 20km from the finish line, followed very soon afterwards by a steep 7km category 1 climb to the finish of the stage.
The stage is almost certain to feature big changes in the general classification.
Stage 7, ‘unsung hero’: Maciej Bodnar. This unknown Liquigas rider produced a perfect lead out for team mate Ellia Viviani only for Viviani to miss out on the stage win by the smallest of margins. It was a perfect performance from Bodnar and he is a deserving winner of the Stage 7 unsung hero award.
1 DEGENKOLB, John ARG 3h 48′ 30”
2 VIVIANI, Elia LIQ m.t. 1º
3 DAVIS, Allan OGE m.t. 1º
4 BOUHANNI, Nacer FDJ m.t. 1º
5 BENNATI, Daniele RNT m.t. 1º
6 MEERSMAN, Gianni LTB m.t. 1º
7 VAN WINDEN, Dennis RAB m.t. 1º
8 ROJAS, José Joaquin MOV m.t. 1º
9 MONDORY, Lloyd ALM m.t. 1º
10 SWIFT, Ben SKY m.t. 1º
1 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT 25h 53′ 04”
2 FROOME, Christopher SKY + 10”
3 CONTADOR, Alberto STB + 36”
4 GESINK, Robert RAB + 54”
5 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV + 54”
6 ROCHE, Nicolas ALM + 1′ 04”
7 MOLLEMA, Bauke RAB + 1′ 12”
8 MORENO, Daniel KAT + 1′ 17”
9 COBO, Juan José MOV + 1′ 34”
10 HENAO, Sergio Luis SKY + 1′ 39”
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