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Bennati Wins Vuelta Stage 18 Sprint

By Chris Jasurek
Epoch Times Staff
Created: September 6, 2012 Last Updated: September 7, 2012
Related articles: World » Special Section
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Daniele Bennati of RadioShack celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win Stage 18 of the Vuelta a España. (Jaime Reina/AFP/GettyImages)

Daniele Bennati of RadioShack celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win Stage 18 of the Vuelta a España. (Jaime Reina/AFP/GettyImages)

A Vuelta a España stage predicted to end as a sprint finish actually did Thursday: Stage 18, straight and flat, finished with the sprinters’ teams battling to the line. But it was not John Degenkolb of Argos-Shimano who won the first four sprint stages, who won today. Today belonged to RadioShack’s Daniele Bennati, who used his experience to follow the right wheel and attack at the right time.

It was Bennati’s first win since Stage 20 of the 2011 Vuelta.

“It seemed impossible for me to win this—I’ve had a pretty difficult year,” Bennati told Eurosport. “I didn’t prepare for the Vuelta the way I’d have liked. I’ve been ill again this season but it was important for me to get here and ride; I really wanted to do well today.

“Today was very hard, fifty k an hour almost, so it’s just been a crazy week, incredible. It’s been full gas for two weeks.

“This win is for Wouter Weylandt, and for my grandfather who died recently. This win is for them.”

Wouter Weylandt, a teammate of Bennati’s and a friend to many riders in the peloton died after a crash in the 2011 Giro d’Italia. Weylandt won the last Vuelta stage which ended in Valladollid.

Stage 18, 205 kilometers from Aguilar de Campoo to Valladolid, presented not a single categorized climb or even a vaguely challenging incline. It was a textbook sprint stage, and that is how it played out: a five rider break escaped at the starting line but was ridden down 18 kilometers from the finish line.

Shortly before the capture, there was a crash in the peloton which might have some implications for the rest of the race: RadioShack’s Linus Gerdemann and Movistar’s Nairo Quintana hit the deck hard. Gerdemann had to retire; Quintana, who has been an essential assistant to Alejandro Valverde in the climbing stages and even in Stage 17’s long flat chase, was able to continue but might be impaired.

Through the rest of Stage 18, Movistar, Saxo-Tinkoff, and the teams with sprint aspirations, mainly Sky, RadioShack, and Orica-GreenEdge fought to control the peloton. Sky’s Ian Stannard took over with 800 meters to go, perhaps a little too soon, even for a rider with Stannard’s power. GreenEdge’s Simon Clarke came next, trying to set up teammate Allan Davis; Sky’s Ben Swift rode Clarke’s wheel. Well back was Argos Shimano, which totally missed their chance to deliver Degenkolb to or even near the front.

Daniele Bennati (L) of RadioShack crosses the finish line first ahead of Sky's Ben Swift (R). (Jaime Reina/AFP/GettyImages)

Daniele Bennati (L) of RadioShack crosses the finish line first ahead of Sky's Ben Swift (R). (Jaime Reina/AFP/GettyImages)

Ag2r’s Lloyd Mondory started the sprinting, probably too soon, considering the road had the slightest uphill slope. Ben Swift and Daniele Bennati followed Mondory, then Swift drifted right as the Ag2R rider slowed. Bennati let Swift pull him a few more pedal-strokes closer to the line before moving right to overtake the Sky sprinter, while GreenEdge’s Allan Davis, who had latched onto Bennati when the sprinting started, had to try to move around the leading pair on the left.

Swift and Bennati were side-by-side at the line; the RadioShack rider won the stage with a stronger lunge, thrusting his bike forward across the line a few inches ahead of Swift. Davis and Mondory took fourth and fifth, while John Degenkolb managed to finish fifth, despite having to sprint all alone for the final 500 meters. Degenkolb’s Argos teammates couldn’t get their sprinter to the front of the field; his enormous power nearly got him on the podium anyway.

It was Bennati’s first win since last year’s Vuelta.

The General Classification remained unchanged. Alberto Contador seems to have a lock on his second Vuelta a España, having made good on his comeback for a six-month suspension.

Stage 19 is another one for the sprinters, though with its uphill final kilometer, BMC’s Philippe Gilbert or even Alejandro Valverde might grab a stage win. Unless Valverde or Rodriguez try an attack like Contador’s in Stage 17—highly unlikely that that tact would work again—the mountainous Stage 20 will be the make-or-break stage for Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez. If he is willing to settle for third overall, the stage could be dull. If Rodriguez wants to make one last effort to challenge Contador, the stage could be spectacular.

Vuelta a España Stage 18

 

rider

team

time

1

Daniele Bennati

Radioshack-Nissan

4:17:17

2

Ben Swift

Sky

0:00:01

3

Allan Davis

Orica-GreenEdge

 

4

Lloyd Mondory

AG2R

 

5

John Degenkolb

Argos-Shimano

 

6

Davide Vigano

Lampre-ISD

 

7

Matti Breschel

Rabobank

 

8

Koen De Kort

Argos-Shimano

 

9

Mitchell Docker

Orica-GreenEdge

 

10

Grégory Rast

RadioShack-Nissan

0:00:06

General Classification after Stage 18

 

rider

team

time

1

Alberto Contador Velasco

Saxo-Tinkoff

72:25:21

2

Alejandro Valverde

Movistar

0:01:52

3

Joaquim Rodriguez

Katusha

0:02:28

4

Christopher Froome

Sky

0:09:40

5

Daniel Moreno

Katusha

0:11:36

6

Robert Gesink

Rabobank

0:12:02

7

Laurens Ten Dam

Rabobank

0:12:55

8

Andrew Talansky

Garmin-Sharp

0:13:06

9

Igor Anton

Euskaltel-Euskadi

0:13:49

10

Benat Intxausti

Movistar

0:14:10

 




   

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