Race report

John Degenkolb 9th in hectic opening sprint at the Vuelta

Vuelta a España

After yesterday’s opening team time trial, the Vuelta a España peloton were back in action for the first open road stage of the race – a mostly flat 175 kilometres from ‘s-Hertogenbosch to Utrecht; albeit with one classified climb along the way. A flurry of attacks in the opening minute of action soon calmed down as the break of five escaped. With all Team DSM riders in the bunch the focus remained on staying safe and conserving energy for later.

Despite initially getting five minutes of an advantage, the pace was kept high in the peloton and the gap was almost closed at 90 kilometres to go. Yet, things slowed once again and the break could fight it out for the KOM points on offer. As expected though, things all came back together heading into the final 40 kilometres. Maté forged on solo for a while but he was caught at 20 kilometres to go as the bunch set up the fight for the bonus sprint.

Moving up together in the closing ten kilometres, Nikias Arndt was John Degenkolb’s pilot fish and he guided him towards the front where they held their position under the flamme rouge. It was a technical run-in with Degenkolb giving his all in the sprint to the line, taking a solid ninth place for the team on the stage.

“It’s not a fantastic result but it is still a top ten result in a Grand Tour and I’m quite happy with that,” explained Degenkolb at the finish. “We did some great teamwork today. This morning before breakfast Nikias and I went with Matt to look at the last five kilometres and I think that paid off. It was really nice to know the parcours exactly. In the end I have to say a big thank you to Nikias but also the whole team. It’s a good start and I think it is nice to get the race underway with a top ten.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “Hectic start here in Holland. Mark had a small crash but he was able to return to the bunch. The guys tried to look after each other as best as possible but the road kept opening and closing so it was hard to be together with each other. In the final the plan was to go for John. Nikias did a really good job there looking after John, and we brought Thymen safely inside the three kilometres to go mark. Nikias and John then did a good finale with John finishing inside the top ten so it’s nice to get the road side of the Vuelta underway with a solid result.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 BENNETT Sam BORA - hansgrohe 3:49:34 100
2 PEDERSEN Mads Trek - Segafredo ,, 40
3 MERLIER Tim Alpecin-Deceuninck ,, 20
9 DEGENKOLB John Team DSM ,, -
25 BRENNER Marco Team DSM ,, -
35 ARNDT Nikias Team DSM ,, -
59 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM ,, -
66 ARENSMAN Thymen Team DSM ,, -
80 HVIDEBERG Jonas Iversby Team DSM ,, -
128 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM ,, -
171 VANDENABEELE Henri Team DSM 1:57 -