VILLANUEVA DE LA SERENA, Spain : Florian Senechal sprinted to an unlikely maiden world tour victory in stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana on Friday.
The Frenchman held off a late challenge from UAE Team Emirates's Matteo Trentin to secure glory on the 203.7 km flat stage from Belmez to Villanueva de la Serena.
It had appeared as if Deceuninck–Quick-Step were setting up their speedster Fabio Jakobsen for a stage victory.
However the Dutchman lost contact with his train just under a km from the finish after getting a flat tyre, allowing team mate Senechal to push on for the win.
"I don't know (what to think). We did everything perfectly for Fabio but he said on the radio there was a gap and he just told me 'sprint, Florian!'," Senechal said.
"I don't know what to say at the moment - it's crazy! I had to keep calm and was expecting people to come past me, but nobody passed me."
An uneventful stage saw a three-man breakaway containing Diego Rubio (Burgos-BH), Alvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Luis Angel Mate (Euskaltel-Euskadi) push ahead early on but they were caught with 25 to go by the peloton before the late drama.
Norway's Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) retained the leader's red jersey, keeping his 58 seconds lead over Frenchman Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and 1:56 advantage over Slovenian reigning champion Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) as the race head into the mountains in its final week.
Saturday sees a summit finish as the race goes 165.7 km from Don Benito to Pico Villuercas on stage 14.
(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Ken Ferris)