Daniele Bennati of RadioShack-Nissan used all his experience today to outfox Team Sky's Ben Swift to win Stage 18 of the Vuelta in Valladolid this afternoon. Team Sky had led the peloton in the closing few kilometres as they looked to set up the Yorkshireman, and when Ian Stannard peeled off with around 250 metres left to ride, Swift got onto the wheel of AG2R-La Mondiale's Lloyd Mondory and looked poised to take the win. Alberto Contador of Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank continues to lead the race overall by nearly two minutes.
Bennati, aged 31, seven years older than Swift, knew exactly which wheel he wated to grab, however, nipping into the Team Sky riders' slipstream and then timimg his move round the 24-year-old to perfection to win the stage by a matter of inches.
John Degenkolb of Argos-Shimano, until now the sprinter to beat in this year's Vuelta, desperately needed a fifth stage victory to try and catch up the three Spaniards ahead of him in the points classification - Contador, Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, and Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez, the current leader of the points competition.
Degenkolb found himself out of position at the crucial point in the finale, however, and finished fifth, well behind the pair fighting it out for the win.He remains fourth in the points classification, 46 points behind Rodriguez.
Earlier in the 204.5km, mainly flat, stage from Aguilar de Campoo, a crash some 32km out brought down four riders including Bennati's team mate Linus Gerdemann who came down heavily and was subsequently reported to have abandoned the race.
A five man breakaway, comprising uis Angel Mate of Cofidis, Martijn Keizer from Vacansoleil-DCM, the Katusha rider Gatis Smukulis, Andalucia's Gustavo Cesar and Brent Bookwalter of BMC Racing, had been swept up with 18km left to ride with the peloton going flat out, strung way back down the road as it crossed the plain and headed towards Valladolid.
The stage winner the last time the Vuelta visited the city was the Belgian sprinter Wouter Weylandt, Bennati's Leopard Trek teammate, killed in a crash during the 2011 Giro d'Italia. Today the Italian dedicated his stage win to his late colleague.
Vuelta Stage 18 Result 1 BENNATI, Daniele RNT 4h 17' 17'' 2 SWIFT, Ben SKY Same time 3 DAVIS, Allan OGE " 4 MONDORY, Lloyd ALM " 5 DEGENKOLB, John ARG " 6 VIGANO, Davide LAM " 7 BRESCHEL, Matti RAB " 8 DE KORT, Koen ARG " 9 DOCKER, Mitchell OGE " 10 RAST, Grégory RNT + 6'' 11 BAZAYEV, Assan AST + 6'' 12 VIVIANI, Elia LIQ + 6'' 13 CLARKE, Simon OGE + 6'' 14 DUQUE, Leonardo COF + 6'' 15 PÉREZ, Rubén EUS + 6'' 16 STANNARD, Ian SKY + 6'' 17 KREDER, Michel GRS + 8'' 18 TERPSTRA, Niki OPQ + 8'' 19 MAASKANT, Martijn GRS + 10'' 20 MORENO, Daniel KAT + 10'' Last man home on Stage 18 178 ROSENDO, Jesús ACG + 25' 25'' General Classification after Stage 18 1 CONTADOR, Alberto STB 72h 25' 21'' 2 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV + 1' 52'' 3 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT + 2' 28'' 4 FROOME, Christopher SKY + 9' 40'' 5 MORENO, Daniel KAT + 11' 36'' 6 GESINK, Robert RAB + 12' 02'' 7 TEN DAM, Laurens RAB + 12' 55'' 8 TALANSKY, Andrew GRS + 13' 06'' 9 ANTON, Igor EUS + 13' 49'' 10 INTXAUSTI, Beñat MOV + 14' 10'' Points Classification after Stage 18 1 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT 170 2 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV 159 3 CONTADOR, Alberto STB 152 4 DEGENKOLB, John ARG 124 5 FROOME, Christopher SKY 93 Mountains Classification after Stage 18 1 CLARKE, Simon OGE 38 2 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT 36 3 DE GENDT, Thomas VCD 33 4 VALVERDE, Alejandro MOV 31 5 CONTADOR, Alberto STB 28
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.