Drucker denies Meersman on stage 16, Quintana maintains healthy advantage


Jean-Pierre Drucker denied Gianni Meersman a third stage win of the Vuelta a Espana with a perfectly timed sprint to take victory on stage 16.

The BMC rider has so often been the nearly man in bunch sprints, but he finally claimed a Grand Tour win after the 156.4 kilometres to Peniscola.

Daniele Bennati looked to have caught the peloton out with a late surge, but the Tinkoff rider was reeled in over the closing 400 metres to give way to a hotly contested sprint.

Meersman saw another stage success in front of him as he led the chase for the line, but Drucker had the extra gear to cross the line in first place, leaving the Belgian in fourth.

Rudiger Selig (Bora-Argon) and Nikias Arndt (Giant - Alpecin) also out-paced Meersman in the closing stages, while FDJ's Lorrenzo Manzin was also in contention.

Behind the sprint, general classification leader Nairo Quintana enjoyed a comfortable day to hold onto the three minute 37 second lead he put together on Sunday.

After the drama of the past two days that saw Quintana open up his commanding lead, Monday's stage was much more straightforward.

Silvan Dillier (BMC), Sven Erik Bystrom (Katusha), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Julien Morice (Direct Energie), Davide Villella (Cannondale) and Mario Costa (Lampre) made up the six-man breakaway and they carved out a three-minute advantage.

The peloton ensured it was held around that time with Astana, IAM Cycling and Giant heading the chase.

Mate took maximum points in the only King of the Mountain climb atop Alto Castillo de Morella, while Dillier was victorious in the day's sole sprint ahead of the finish.

Slowly the breakaway saw their lead cut and with 12km to race the peloton was all back together - including the 93 who finished nearly an hour behind on stage 15, but were allowed to continue by race commissaires.

Giant, Team Sky and Dimension Data assumed control of the pace, but BMC were also in attendance to provide the perfect lead out for Drucker.

Bennati launched a valiant attempt to make a long-range break stick, but it proved futile though as the sprinters lined up for a thrilling finale.

And it was Drucker who took the spoils, denying Meersman a third win having already won stage two and five.