Fabio Aru won his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España, but what else were we talking about on stage 21?

Degenkolb finally wins

John Degenkolb wins stage twenty-one of the 2015 Tour of Spain (Watson)

John Degenkolb wins stage twenty-one of the 2015 Tour of Spain (Watson)

It’s been a long time coming, but John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) finally landed the stage wins he’s been courting these past three weeks.

He may have started his sprint very early, but such is his superiority over all of the other sprinters left in the race that he managed to hang on for his first Grand Tour stage win of the season.

The win will no doubt lift spirits in the Giant-Alpecin camp following Tom Dumoulin’s disappointment on Saturday, and, for Degenkolb, is a promising sign looking ahead to his next major target – the World Championship road race.

Fabio Aru enjoys his day in red

Javier Guillem and Fabio Aru at the start of Stage 21 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

Javier Guillem and Fabio Aru at the start of Stage 21 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

With much of Saturday’s drama focused around Dumoulin’s collapse, Fabio Aru’s success was perhaps not given the attention it deserved. But on Sunday, seeing Aru ride around Madrid reinstated in the red jersey gave us time to reflect on his achievement of winning the overall.

His constant attacks when not in the jersey and never-say-die attitude was entertaining to watch, and was ultimately rewarded when his attack on Dumoulin yesterday finally struck.

As ever he wore a broad smile on the top step of the podium, for what will surely be the first of many Grand Tour victories.

Alejandro Valverde wins the points jersey

Joaquin Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde at the start of Stage 21 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

Joaquin Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde at the start of Stage 21 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

The points jersey has been an oddity of this Vuelta. With no one rider dominating the bunch sprints, and without many stages for the pure sprinters, those at the top of the classification have got there by default from riding for the GC.

But for the first time in the race a rider actually demonstrated an intention of going for the jersey, as Alejandro Valverde slipped off the front to gain the four seconds available at the intermediate sprint, to leapfrog Joaquim Rodriguez and win the classification.

It wasn’t exactly an epic showdown, however – Rodriguez had punctured just before the sprint and therefore did not contest it, allowing Valverde to roll over the line alongside his Movitar teammates.

Omar Fraile out on the attack again

Fabio Aru and Omar Fraile,  at the start of Stage 21 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

Fabio Aru and Omar Fraile, at the start of Stage 21 of the 2015 Vuelta Espana (Watson)

One of the most underappreciated protagonists of this year’s Vuelta has been Omar Fraile.

When he first claimed the King of the Mountains jersey on day three, nobody expected him to take it all the way to Madrid. But he timed his attacks throughout the Vuelta perfectly in order to take enough points to win overall without being anywhere near the best climber in the race.

Without any stage wins or particularly eye-catching breaks to his name, his victory hasn’t been much commented on, so it was good to see him showing off his jersey out in an attack today.

Adam Hansen completes his thirteenth

Adam Hansen lines up for Stage twenty of the 2015 Tour of Spain (Watson)

Adam Hansen lines up for Stage twenty of the 2015 Tour of Spain (Watson)

One rider who will have been more relieved than most to make it to the finish today was Adam Hansen, who, upon completing today’s stage, makes it thirteen consecutive Grand Tour finishes.

It had looked a little hairy for the Australian earlier in the race, when he suffered a rare crash, but he fought on to finish his third Grand Tour of the season for a fourth successive year.