Germany’s John Degenkolb underlined his status as the Vuelta a Espana’s strongest sprinter on Friday with a third victory in six days.
Victorious in all of the bunch sprints in this year’s race, the Argos-Shimano speedster used his trademark last-ditch acceleration to fend off Italian Elia Viviani by half a wheel on a motor-racing-circuit finish to stage seven.
Allan Davis of Australia was third while Katusha rider Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain retained the overall lead.
“After taking that first win [on Sunday] everything has been a bonus and it becomes easier to suffer,” Degenkolb told reporters.
“Today we suffered, you can see that from when we were in one line close to the finish because we were going so fast. Team Sky did a great job working for their sprinter Ben Swift and I even had a few problems following them,” he said. “But my guys had good timing, dropped me off exactly where I needed to be, and I came up to the line just in time for the win.”
Degenkolb said his third victory justified the Vuelta organization’s decision to invite his team for the second year running.
“We deserve our place here and we deserve our place in the Tour de France again next year too,” he added. “Normally the points jersey here is won by one of the overall classification riders, not like in the Tour, but I’ll fight for it. I fight for everything.”
Rodriguez stayed in front for the fourth day. Britain’s Chris Froome occupied second spot, 10 seconds back, while Spain’s Alberto Contador was third at 36 seconds.