The longest stage of this year’s Vuelta a Espana always looked, on paper, to be a true sprinters stage. The beginning of the stage certainly played out that way. A doomed 2 rider break went clear and got around 6 minutes before the peloton slowly started to reel them in. With 50km’s to go, Belkin noticed the wind had picked up and wanted to capitalize on the situation. Almost immediately the break was caught and a new race was on for the final 40km’s as the gutter riding began.

While Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung tried to keep Sergio Pardilla up front, the fight was on among all the other big GC riders and sprinters in the hope of not being caught out. The echelons started to form though and Pardilla ended up in the 2nd group. Our two sprinters Sbaragli and Gerald Ciolek both made the front split and so we were in with a shout for the stage win. The sprint was run at a furious pace and Sbaragli came from deep to cross the line 7th, a great result for the young Italian. Pardilla would lose 53” seconds on the stage but fortunately, only dropped 1 position on the GC.


Jens Zemke:

Kristian Sbaragli (before today's stage):