Liquigas’ Peter Sagan sprinted to his third stage victory in this year’s Vuelta a Espana, as Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) came home safely within the peloton to take his first Grand Tour victory.

Britain’s Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins also finished within the bunch to wrap up their respective second and third placed finishes on GC.

The Team Sky duo are the first Britons to stand on a Grand Tour podium since Robert Millar came second in the Giro d’Italia 24 years ago.

Cobo, who took over the race lead last Sunday, finished a slender 13 seconds ahead of Froome, with Wiggins 1-39 behind the winner.

Sagan once again
The final stage of the third Grand Tour of the season was, unsurprisingly, a ceremonial affair.

Having set out from the Circuito del Jarama, the country’s home of Formula One until 1981, the race slowly headed into the centre of Madrid, averaging marginally over 30km/h for the first two hours.

It briefly came alive when a three-man group of Damiano Caruso (Liquigas), Jose Alberto Benitez (Andalucia Caja Granda) and Joan Horrach (Katusha) succeeded in breaking clear on the third lap of 12 around the Spanish capital, although the peloton seemed nonplussed by their efforts.

However, they were caught with 10km remaining as the sprinters’ teams stepped up their efforts.

On the approach to the line, Daniele Bennati, Alessandro Pettachi and John Degenkolb were all challenging for the victory, but it was Sagan who got the better of his rivals to bookend a successful Tour of Spain for the Liquigas rider.

Rabobank’s Bauke Mollema took the points jersey, snatching it away from Joaquin Rodriguez at the death, while Frenchman David Moncoutie (Cofidis) was King of the Mountains winner for the fourth consecutive year.

Results
Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 21: Circuto del Jarama to Madrid, 95.6km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas in 2-20-59
2. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Leopard-Trek 
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD 
4. John Degenkolb (Ger) HTC-Highroad 
5. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step
6. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Chris Sutton (Aus) Team Sky
8. Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano 
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank
10. Vicente Reynes (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto
Brits
12. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
19. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky all at st
81. Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky at 21 sec

Final overall classification
1. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Geox-TMC
2. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky at 13 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 1-39
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 2-03
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC at 3-48
6. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard-Trek at 4-13
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 4-31
8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 4-45
9. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 5-20
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 5-33
Brits
128. Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky at 3-49-52

Juan Jose Cobo wins overall, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 21
Juan Jose Cobo wins the 2011 Vuelta a Espana

Peter Sagan wins final stage, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 21
Peter Sagan wins the final stage

Cobo, Froome and Wiggins on podium, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage 21
British riders make history: Bradley Wiggins (left) and Chris Froome (right) flank overall winner Juan Jose Cobo

Related links
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Latest news
Cobo: Sky will attack in Bilbao
Froome narrows gap on Cobo to take first grand tour stage win
Wiggins and Froome in ‘enemy territory’ on stage 17
Confusion reigns in Vuelta stage as riders tackle roundabout wrong way
Sky uses rest day to regroup before final leg of Vuelta
Wiggins upbeat despite losing Vuelta lead on Angliru
Crunch time for Wiggins and Froome in Vuelta
Wiggins says he will give it 100 per cent to defend Vuelta lead
Vuelta tackles unknown mountain top finish today
Froome: “This lead is a big milestone”
Wiggins in Vuelta: “We’re in an amazing position”
Dan Martin delighted with King of the Mountains jersey
Sky dominates in Vuelta a Espana
Martin delighted with first ever grand tour stage win
Wiggins: A fantastic finish
Interview: Wiggins looks ahead of crucial three days of Vuelta
Farrar taken to hospital after Vuelta crash
Arvesen quits Vuelta with crash injuries
Anton suffers again but Rodriguez becomes Spain’s top contender
Wiggins pleased with strong ride in Spanish sierras
Cavendish abandons Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Teams, riders, start list 
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Who’s riding?
Vuelta a Espana 2011 team list

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Stage reports
Stage 20: Bennati wins as Cobo holds onto narrow advantage
Stage 19: Anton takes win on Basque home soil as Cobo foils Froome
Stage 18: Gavazzi salvages poor Vuelta for Lampre as Cobo enjoys trouble-free day
Stage 17: Froome wins Vuelta stage 17 but can’t unseat Cobo from race lead
Stage 16: Haedo wins confusing stage 16 finish in Vuelta
Stage 15: Wiggins loses race lead as Cobo stakes claim for overall on Angliru
Stage 14: Taaramae takes stage as Wiggins puts time into rivals
Stage 13: Albasini wins Vuelta stage 13 as Wiggins hangs on to lead
Stage 12: Sagan takes second 2011 Vuelta stage win
Stage 11: Wiggins takes overall lead as Moncoutie wins stage
Stage 10: Brit Froome moves into overall Vuelta lead after time trial
Stage nine: Martin wins as Wiggins moves further up GC
Stage eight: Rodriguez wins again to take overall lead
Stage seven: Kittel wins chaotic bunch sprint
Stage six: Sagan takes Vuelta stage win in controversial circumstances
Stage five: Rodriguez takes second win for Katusha but Chavanel holds on
Stage four: Moreno wins first mountain skirmish at Sierra Nevada
Stage three: Lastras solos to stage and takes red jersey
Stage two: Sutton grabs stage win to set things right for Sky
Stage one: Leopard-Trek win opening TTT to put Fuglsang in front

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Photo galleries
By Graham Watson
Stage 20 photo gallery
Stage 19 photo gallery
Stage 18 photo gallery
Stage 17 photo gallery
Stage 16 photo gallery
Stage 15 photo gallery
Stage 14 photo gallery
Stage 13 photo gallery
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery

Vuelta a Espana 2011: TV guide
Vuelta a Espana 2011: ITV4 TV schedule
Vuelta a Espana 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule
ITV to show 2011 Vuelta