• Astana's Fabio Aru (C) won the Vuelta a España at the end of the 98.8km final stage in Madrid (AAP)Source: AAP
Fabio Aru wrapped up his first Grand Tour victory after finishing safely on the final stage of the Vuelta a España as John Degenkolb won the final sprint for Giant-Alpecin.
Cycling Central

14 Sep 2015 - 4:29 AM  UPDATED 14 Sep 2015 - 9:48 AM

Aru (Astana) took control of the race on the penultimate stage of the race and encountered no issues during the final 98km procession from Alcalá de Henares to Madrid.

He finished 57 seconds ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) third on the general classification.

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The day began with a largely ceremonial 39.8km ride from Alcalá de Henares to Madrid. A six-rider break soon formed once the peloton reached the finishing circuit in the Spanish capital. This included Matteo Montaguti (AG2R), Omar Fraile (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin) and Laurent Pichon (FDJ).  

The break could only ever establish a narrow lead that was always kept well under control, with the chase coming hard from Trek Factory Racing, Lampre-Merida, Giant-Alpecin, Tinkoff -Saxo and BMC. Despite some resistance from King and Verona the break was swept up with one lap to go.

Individual riders launched several desperate attacks but none stuck and the stage came down to the expected bunch sprint. Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) emerged as the winner ahead of Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) and Jempy Drucker (BMC). 

Degenkolb's win boosted morale in the Giant-Alpecin camp after Tom Dumoulin lost the race lead at the final hurdle on Saturday.

"The emotions are gone from zero to 100 now, and we can go home with positive feelings because this was still an awesome Vuelta, with 6th place overall and three stage wins for the team," said Degenkolb.

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Astana director Alexander Vinokourov hailed the work of the Astana team in helping Aru to his maiden Grand Tour victory.

"This is not just a triumph for Fabio Aru, this is about the victory of a team,"  Vinokourov said. "On paper it seems easy but the reality is that it was very tough."

The inaugural edition of the Madrid Challenge, a La Course-style women's race held over the same course as the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana also took place before the men rolled into Madrid. Ale-Cippollini's Shelley Olds took the victory ahead ahead of Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) and Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products).