The temperatures during stage 16 of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana somehow resembled the heat of today’s sprint. With only Madrid left as an option for the sprinters it was all about the fast guys for the win today. Jempy Drucker (BMC) had lady luck on his side. He crossed the line after 156 kilometers of racing from Alcañiz to Peñíscola ahead of Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Argon18) and Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin). Kristian Sbargali managed to get another top 10 finish for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
It took only a few kilometers for today’s break to get a gap. Silvan Dillier (BMC), Sven Erik Bystrom (Katusha), Julien Morice (Direct Energie), Davide Villella (Cannondale), Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis) and Mario Costa (Lampre – Merida) worked well together but Etixx-QuickStep and IAM didn’t want them to get too far ahead. They kept things under control. Nic Dougall also joined in on the pace making from the pack and made it clear that our African team had ambitions today with Sbaragli.
When the stage entered it’s final racing hour the gap would diminish steadily. With 12 kilometers to go it was all over for the break, as the sprinter teams tried to form their trains. Tinkoff though, had something else in mind and sent Daniele Bennati off the front with 2 kilometers to go. The Italian was able to open up a gap on the slightly tricky run-in but was caught again on the final stretch. Then it was Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quickstep) to open the sprint. The Belgian was too early in the wind though and had to settle for 4th. Drucker, who jumped from Meersman’s wheel, had the strongest punch in the end. Coming into the finishing straight Sbaragli was positioned well. He got boxed in a little though and finished 7th respectively.
Alex Sans Vega – Sports Director
We hoped for a small break today and this is exactly how the race unfolded. We were happy with the situation. The break didn’t really get a big gap. In the finale the guys worked really well to position Kristian. Maybe we were a little bit too early at the front, as Kristian was on his own inside the last kilometer. He had to invest some energy to stay there, too much maybe as he missed a bit for the final acceleration. Obviously we had hoped for a better result today. All in all it wasn’t too bad and we’re positive that our time at this Vuelta will come.