• John Degenkolb celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the last stage of the 2015 Vuelta a España (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
John Degenkolb raised the spirits of a despondent Giant-Alpecin team on Stage 21 of the Vuelta a Espana as he took a sprint victory on the streets of Madrid.

Degenkolb took the final bunch sprint of the race ahead of Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) and Jempy Drucker (BMC).

The stage victory follows a heartbreaking day for the team on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta, where Tom DUmoulin lost the leader's jersey to Fabio Aru. Dumoulin had worn the jersey early in the race, reclaimed it in the Stage 17 time trial by three seconds and had extended his lead to six seconds on stage 19.

However, the pace of Astana in the mountains on Stage 20 proved too much for Dumoulin as he cracked on the second-to-last climb. He eventually finished in sixth position on the general classification.

Degenkolb said the stage win means a lot.

“ I am super happy to get this victory. It’s really nice to pay the team back for all the hard work they’ve done in the sprint stages.

"Yesterday was a black day for us. We were very disappointed, but that’s sport and that’s life; we cannot change it. We are all proud of Tom. The Vuelta was one day too long, but I am confident that he will be back.

“This is the most successful Grand Tour for the team so far, and I am very happy and proud of what we all achieved as a team during this Vuelta."

Dumoulin did not go away empty-handed either, winning the Vuelta’s most combative rider award. Dumoulin paid tribute to Degenkolb after accepting the prize on the podium in Madrid.

“I cannot be unhappy right now,” he said. “We won the stage and John deserved this victory because he worked so hard for me over the last three weeks. He made efforts that normally sprinters would never do.”

Degenkolb and Dumoulin will now both look to the World Championships in Richmond, USA for their next chance of success. Degenkolb is viewed as a favourite to win the road race, and Dumoulin is tipped to perform in the time trial.

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Aru wins the Vuelta a España
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.