Report: Team Sky
Published: 9 September 2012
Chris Froome made it safely to the end of the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana to secure fourth place overall.
The British rider came into the race on the back of a second place finish at the Tour de France and put in a strong showing to secure top-five finishes in back-to-back Grand Tours, a rare achievement in modern cycling.
Froome was in contention for overall victory early on but slipped back as the race wore one, eventually finishing behind the all-Spanish podium of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
He was ably supported throughout the three weeks by a strong Team Sky line-up, with every rider making it to the finish bar the unfortunate Xavier Zandio who crashed out on stage 12.
Sergio Henao again proved his Grand Tour potential with a 14th place finish, while Ben Swift and Richie Porte both came agonisingly close to stage victories.
On the last day of the race into Madrid Swift came home in 19th position while John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) won his fifth stage of the race.
The riders set out at a leisurely pace as Contador, who was riding in his first major race since serving a doping suspension, had time to savour his imminent victory.
As the riders approached Madrid for the finishing circuit six riders chipped off the front in a bid to upset the sprinters.
Kevin Seeldraeyers (Astana), Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil-DCM), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sergio Carrasco and Javier Chacon (Andalucia) and Javier Aramenida (Caja Rurual) were the riders who went up the road.
But the peloton kept them on a tight leash and it was the fast men who came to the fore on the run to the finish line.
Degenkolb was given a perfect lead out by his team-mates and finished off the job in his trademark powerful style, with Viviani edged into second and Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) completing the top three.
Valverde showed his all-round abilities by sprinting to sixth place, meaning he overtook Rodriguez to claim victory in both the points and combination classifications at the last possible opportunity.
Rodriguez, who had been set for overall victory until a daring move from Contador on stage 17, ultimately finished the race empty-handed.
Alberto Contador secured the overall win in the general classification with John Degenkolb taking the stage win which came to a sprint finish.
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano 2:44:57
2 Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Radioshack-Nissan
4 Allan Davis (Aus) Orica - GreenEdge
5 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Garmin - Sharp
6 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
7 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
8 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
9 Raymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Sharp
10 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
General classification after stage 21
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 84:59:49
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:16
3 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:37
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:10:16
5 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:11:29
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:12:23
7 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:13:28
8 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:13:41
9 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:14:01
10 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:16:13