Vuelta a Espana: Alberto Dainese sprints to stage 19 win as Sepp Kuss retains lead
Alberto Dainese narrowly avoided a crash in the final kilometre to sprint to victory on stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Green jersey holder Kaden Groves, who has won two stages this year, was among several riders to go down on a straight 2.2km run to the finish in Iscar.
But DSM-Firmenich rider Dainese, 25, avoided danger before passing fellow Italian Filippo Ganna in the sprint.
American Sepp Kuss finished safely in the peloton to retain the overall lead.
The 29-year-old still leads Jonas Vingegaard by 17 seconds, with their Jumbo-Visma team-mate Primoz Roglic just over a minute behind Kuss in third.
They are now following team orders to help Kuss clinch his first Grand Tour win, with Jumbo-Visma set to become the first team to win all three Grand Tours in the same year after Roglic won the Giro d’Italia in May and Vingegaard retained his Tour de France title in July.
Kuss maintained his lead over the final mountain stages and the race returned to the flat on Friday over 177.5km of racing from La Baneza.
After the late crash, Ganna benefited from a lead-out to put him at the front on the final sprint but Dainese came from way back, timing his attack to perfection to snatch his third Grand Tour stage win.
“It was really unlucky to lose a couple of guys in the crash but until that point I was in the perfect position, I was where I wanted to be,” he said.
“I knew there was a bit of a headwind so I just let Ganna and the other guys go a bit early and then I was waiting for my moment to go in the wind. I’m super happy to finish a hard Vuelta in this way.”
Kuss is not quite assured of victory yet as Saturday’s penultimate stage takes the riders into the hills over 208km around Madrid and will feature 10 categorised climbs.
Stage 19 results
1. Alberto Dainese (Ita/DSM-Firmenich) 3hrs 42mins 09secs
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita/Ineos Grenadiers) Same time
3. Marijn van den Berg (Ned/EF Education-EasyPost)
4. Davide Cimolai (Ita/Cofidis)
5. Ivan Garcia (Spa/Movistar)
6. Maurice Ballerstedt (Ger/Alpecin-Deceuninck)
7. Lewis Askey (GB/Groupama-FDJ)
8. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra/Arkea-Samsic)
9. Fernando Barcelo (Spa/Caja Rural-Seguros RGA)
10. Jonas Koch (Ger/Bora-hansgrohe)
General classification after stage 19
1. Sepp Kuss (US/Jumbo-Visma) 69hrs 13mins 36secs
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo-Visma) +17secs
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) +1min 08secs
4. Juan Ayuso (Spa/UAE Team Emirates) +4mins
5. Mikel Landa (Spa/Bahrain Victorious) +4mins 19secs
6. Enric Mas (Spa/Movistar) +4mins 30secs
7. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel/Bora-hansgrohe) +7mins 37secs
8. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus/Bora-hansgrohe) +8mins 35secs
9. Joao Almeida (Por/UAE Team Emirates) +10mins 34secs
10. Santiago Buitrago (Col/Bahrain Victorious) +12mins 34secs