Degenkolb forced to sprint early but still wins

John Degenkolb’s tenth victory of 2012 and fourth Vuelta a España bunch sprint victory out of four had a special quality to it, and it wasn’t of his own making. According to the 23-year-old Argos-Shimano rider, Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) slowed to make the German accelerate earlier than he’d have liked on stage 10. But despite making an immensely long sprint as a result, Degenkolb still won - and Bennati placed third.

“He saw I was behind him and he went slower as a result, so I had no choice, I had to attack [make his final acceleration] further out than I wanted to," Degenkolb recounted. “But then the sprint suited me, it was uphill for the last 300 to 400 metres.

“That was best for a power rider like me, and I could get up that last rise really well. I was the strongest on the day..”

Other than that, Tuesday’s stage win had shades of Groundhog Day for Degenkolb: just like the stages to Viana, Logroño and Alcañiz, his three previous wins, a small group got away and the team was able to control it well. Then he got placed in the right position by his teammates, “and I wasn’t looking around at my rivals, I simply trusted the other guys [from Argos-Shimano] to put me in the right place.”

So where does he go from here? Short-term, the stage to Ferrol on Friday looks made for him, but he’s still refusing to say how many stages he thinks he can win between now and Madrid. That said, Degenkolb’s seemingly unstoppable run of success now has him thinking more and more about trying for the green points jersey, which he now leads by 18 points over race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

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