• Vuelta a Espana, Stage Seven

Degenkolb tightens grip on green jersey

ESPN staff
August 24, 2012
John Degenkolb celebrates a hat-trick of stage wins © Getty Images

John Degenkolb held firm to secure stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana, the German rider claiming his third victory in seven days.

The largely flat 164km route from Huesca to Alcaniz was always expected to favour the sprinters and so it proved, Degenkolb putting his foot down early before holding off a late surge from Italian Elia Viviani to extend his lead in the battle for the green jersey.

There were no major changes in the GC, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) retaining his 10-second advantage over second-placed Chris Froome (Team Sky), with fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) 36 seconds back.

An early breakaway consisting of four riders broke clear after 2km, at one stage extending their lead to five minutes, before being swept up inside the final 20km. A crash about 12km from the finish saw Team Sky take over the pace on the front of the peloton, with Argos-Shimano working hard to get Degenkolb into position to launch an attack.

Struggling to free himself at first, Degenkolb then made his move on the wide and flat closing straight, and although Viviani went with him, the German had enough in the tank to cross the line first.

"It's really crazy because I think no one expected me to win three stages on the Vuelta," Degenkolb said. "Today it was a big fight but we showed a lot of confidence from the beginning by riding on the front and bringing back the break."

Stage Seven top five:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano 3:48:30
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3. Allan Davis (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge
4. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat
5. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan

General classification top five:
1. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 25:53:04
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:10
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 0:00:36
4. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:54
5. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:54

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