Denmark’s Michael Morkov (Saxo) sprinted to victory in a remarkable sixth stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday to deny double world time trial champion and long-time leader Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep).
Martin had led from the third kilometre of the 175km ride from Guijelo to Caceres but was caught metres from the line as Morkov surged home ahead of Maximiliano Ariel Recheeze (Lampre) Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack).
There was no change in the overall classification though as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) retained his 3sec lead over Chris Horner with Nicholas Roche (Saxo) a further five seconds back.
“I had never participated in a bunch sprint like this before so I just tried because I was the only one in the team who can sprint,” a surprised Morkov told TVE.
“In the end I had a really good position, I got on the wheel of Cancellara and I knew I would have a last kick and in the end it was enough.
“It feels amazing, it’s fantastic to race in this national Danish jersey and I just feel so proud and lucky to do so.”
It was a heartbreaking finish for Martin, who had made a solo break from the off to build up an advantage of more than seven minutes at one stage.
The German looked set to be caught with 10km to go as his lead was whittled down to under 10 seconds, but he kicked again to briefly extend his advantage before being overwhelmed with the line in sight to finish seventh.
“I wanted to break away and I was hoping to go with a few other guys but nobody could follow so I just kept going,” he said.
“It was really close and I think it was a great day for the fans and everyone who was watching.”
Ariel Recheeze claimed his second placed finish in as many days, whilst Cancellara’s search for a stage victory in this year’s race continues as he was bunched out by Morkov on the dash for the line.
In the overall classification it was another steady day for Nibali as he stayed out of trouble in the peloton as all the major contenders registered the same time.