Fabio Aru seals Vuelta a Espana title as John Degenkolb wins stage 21
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 26/11/15 2:38pm
Fabio Aru completed overall victory of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana by safely negotiating a flat 21st stage into Madrid won by John Degenkolb.
Aru (Astana) crossed the line arm in arm with his team-mates 20 seconds behind the peloton to seal a 57-second triumph over runner-up Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) ending the race 1min 9sec down in third.
It is the first grand tour victory of 25-year-old Italian Aru's career.
He told Eurosport: "I am very emotional and very proud. I would like to thank my team-mates. They believed in me and what was possible. Yesterday [was the key day]. It was really emotional day and we did an amazing job as a team."
Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) sprinted to a comfortable victory over second-placed Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) and third-placed Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing).
It was the 10th Vuelta stage win of the German's career and ended Giant-Alpecin's race on a high following Tom Dumoulin's fall from first to sixth overall on Saturday's 20th stage.
Degenkolb said: "For me, it means a lot, but for the whole team, we had a big disappointment yesterday and the whole world saw that we were really trying everything to defend this [the red] jersey and make it a superb success for the team.
"In the end we failed and we lost the jersey, and finishing sixth in the GC [general classification], it was a huge disappointment for the team and we were all upset yesterday.
"I was trying really hard to get the guys mentally prepared for one last sprint. I love this circuit and we made a perfect lead-out. Now we can go home with a positive Vuelta. For us it's a great Vuelta."
Alejandr Valverde (Movistar) snatched victory in the points classification from former leader Rodriguez by winning an intermediate sprint on the final day. Rodriguez had the consolation of winning the combined classification, while Omar Fraile (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) won the mountains classification.
Stage 21 result
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin, 2:34:13
2 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing, same time
3 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing, st
4 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge, st
5 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal, st
6 Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida, st
7 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step, st
8 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka, st
9 Kevin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr
10 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
1 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, 85:36:13
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, +57
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo, +1:09
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +1:42
5 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge, +3:10
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin, 3:46
7 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +6:47
8 Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, +7:06
9 Daniel Moreno (Esp) Katusha, +7:12
10 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka, +10:26