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Bauke Mollema won the points jersey ahead of a sick Joaquim “Purito” Rodríguez in a final-day showdown in Madrid.
The pair started the final stage tied on points, but Rodríguez said a stomach bug kept him from being in top condition to take it to the young Dutch rider. Mollema crossed the line ninth to earn a trip to the podium to win the jersey, 122-115, after a great race that saw him ride to fourth place overall.
“Bauke is a big rider for the future and for him to finish off the Vuelta like this is fantastic,” said Rabobank sport director Erik Breukink. “He was close to the podium and it hurts a little to miss by being so close, but we can be very satisfied with this Vuelta. He surpassed expectations.”
Rodríguez, meanwhile, said that Mollema deserved to win the green points jersey.
“I think he would have won it anyway, because he finished the Vuelta stronger than I did, but I would have liked to at least had fought for it,” said Rodríguez, who crossed the line 19th. “I suffered a bad stomach all night, with diarrhea and fever. It took all I had just to finish the stage, because I felt empty and didn’t have any strength.”
Rodríguez started the Vuelta with big ambitions for victory and looked to be on winning form when he won two stages on short, punchy uphill finishes at Valdepeñas de Jaen and El Escorial to carry the red leader’s jersey into the second week.
But he fell flat at La Covatilla in stage 9 to lose the lead and never recovered his GC chances after further struggles up Farrapona in stage 14.
“My 19th place certainly wasn’t what I was looking for, but I am satisfied with this Vuelta,” he said. “Katusha made a big impression on the race and we were one of the most combative teams in the Vuelta.”
French climber David Moncoutie (Cofidis) won his fourth consecutive King of the Mountains jersey. Moncoutie also won stage 11, which helped secure his grip on the climber’s jersey.
Moncoutie, 36, says he will race one more season to try to win a record fifth climber’s jersey.
“The Vuelta is my race. It fits well to my characteristics and I will come back to the Vuelta next year to try to win it for a fifth time,” Moncoutie said. “I will not race the Tour next year, but instead return to races where I am motivated to secure results. The Vuelta will be one of my priorities.”
The Frenchman won the jersey, 63-56, thanks in large part from teammate Nico Sijmens, who rode into the day’s breakaway in stage 18 to scoop up points ahead of Matteo Montaguti.
Juanjo Cobo (Geox-TMC) also won the combined jersey.
Geox-TMC won the team classification.