Ace Contador is king of Vuelta's queen stage

Mon Sep 8, 2014 2:28pm EDT
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LA FARRAPONA Spain (Reuters) - Alberto Contador moved closer to a third Tour of Spain title by winning Monday's 16th stage while his closest domestic rivals cracked on the final climb.

Chris Froome was second in the 160.5-km mountain trek, the Vuelta's 'queen stage', after the Team Sky rider's late acceleration helped the pair drop Spanish duo Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez.

Tinkoff-Saxo rider Contador then powered away with 1.5-km left as he finished 15 seconds ahead of the Briton to tighten his grip on the leader's red jersey.

Froome, who started the day fourth overall, is now only three seconds behind the second-placed Valverde.

Contador leads compatriot Valverde by 1:36 and Froome by 1:39 with Rodriguez fourth, 2:29 off the pace.

"There is reason to be extremely pleased with today's stage but there is still a long way to go," Contador told reporters.

"I knew when to wait for my chance and I was able to widen the gap to all the riders including Froome who kept up an incredible rhythm.

"I was feeling strong, I hung in there, saw my

opportunity and made the most of it. I saw that Purito (Rodriguez) and Valverde were left behind and I knew it was an important day," said Contador.   Continued...

Tinkoff-Saxo team rider Alberto Contador of Spain crosses of the 161-km (100 miles) eighth stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Tomblaine and Gerardmer La Mauselaine, July 12, 2014.     REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen