John Degenkolb won the 10th stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday for his fourth victory in this year’s race, while Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain kept the overall lead on the eve of a crucial time trial.
The German rider outsprinted Nacer Bouhanni of France and Daniele Bennati of Italy to finish the 190km stage in 4 hours, 47 minutes, 28 seconds.
“The sprint was really hard and the final [part] was just [a fight],” said Degenkolb, who rides for Argos-Shimano. “The stage in general was not that hard, a small group took charge and we controlled the race the whole day.”
There were no changes to the overall leading group after the ride through the western province of Galicia following the first rest day in the three-week race.
Rodriguez maintained his 53-second advantage over Christopher Froome of Britain. Alberto Contador is 1 minute behind, while fellow Spaniard Alejandro Valverde is 1:07 back.
“It was a comfortable day, although there were unexpected moments that worried us, like when I had a flat and had to change my bike, but I recovered to save my day,” Contador said. “I’m really looking forward to the time trial. I know the route, so let’s see how it turns out. There will be changes to the standings. All four of us all have options of coming out on top.”
Contador and Froome are the favorites for the individual time trial, which is expected to be key in deciding the race winner.
The 39.4km sprint from Cambados to Pontevedra may also suit Rodriguez as it is not a flat sprint, but features a 10km climb up a category 3 hilltop to Monte Castrove.
“The route is not bad, it’s pretty tough. There’s no doubt that tomorrow is going to be a very tough day for me,” said Rodriguez, who finished runner-up at the Giro d’Italia in May after being overtaken in the time trial on the final day. “It wouldn’t be such a bad result to lose a minute, more or less, tomorrow [Wednesday], as I could still fight to keep the leader’s jersey.”
Rodriguez has an overall time of 39 hours, 32 minutes, 23 seconds.
The 21-stage race ends in Madrid on Sept. 9.