• Vangenechten sprints to the win ahead of Daniele Bennati (AAP)Source: AAP
Jonas Vangenechten (IAM) did his prospects of getting a contract next year no harm as he surged to a grand tour stage win of the uphill drag to the finish in Puebla de Sanabria.
By
Cycling Central

27 Aug 2016 - 9:38 AM  UPDATED 27 Aug 2016 - 9:47 AM

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Coming into the final kilometre, it was Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) that held a slim lead over the charging peloton, but they were caught within sight of the line.

Jonas Vangenechten was the first to jump and passed the two escapees, before rounding the inside of the final bend 100 metres from the line and powering clear to take the win.

“It’s more than great because I was not expecting I could win here," said Vangenechten. "I was struggling on the first few hundred meters of the final categorized climb. After that, the climb was always rolling.

"In the last two kilometers, we really had to jostle and fight for position. At the exit of the chicane leading to the small final slope, I positioned myself perfectly.

"I didn’t waste any time from there, and I tried to put all my power into my pedals. And then to beat guys like Valverde and Gilbert in a finish like this makes it all the more beautiful.”

The win was Vangenechten's first for the season, a fitting reward for a rider that often fills out the top five but has had trouble taking a big result like this stage victory.

As it happened

After a flurry of early attacks, the day’s break pulled clear with six riders forming the move. After initially establishing a few minutes lead, they were pegged back in the second half of the stage and caught with 43 kilometres left to race, as teams pushed on ahead of the late climbs on the stage.

Astana went on the offensive, launching Dario Cataldo and Luis Leon Sanchez into an attack on the final ascent of the day. They were joined Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), who had been part of the early move and was on the hunt for King of the Mountains points, Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) and Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quickstep).

With Brambilla only a minute and 22 seconds down on Darwin Atapuma's race lead, the move wasn't allowed much freedom by the peleton, who kept the attack within reach. 

On the descent, Sanchez and Clarke attacked from the leading group, getting clear just before the peloton caught the other three.

The peloton seemed happy to have reeled in Brambilla and let the pair open up a 15-second lead on the fast descent into the valley for the finish.

The gap was still 10 seconds with 1.5 kilometres to go and it still looked possible for Clarke and Sanchez. Behind them there was a fall in the peloton, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) the most notable rider to hit the deck at speed.

In the end it was Sanchez who was stronger than Clarke on the uphill kick to the line but he was passed by a surging Vangenechten in the final 150 metres, who kept powering clear to win the sprint handily. 

Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) took second some way behind with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in third. Philippe Gilbert managed fourth as he continues to search for his first World Tour victory of the season.