Britain’s Simon Yates reclaimed overall leadership of La Vuelta with victory on the final climb of stage 14 to Les Praeres.
Mitchelton-Scott rider Yates had seen Jesus Herrada take the red jersey earlier in the week, but the Spaniard’s challenge faded over the closing 30 kilometres of Saturday’s gruelling trek.
Yates made his move with some 700 metres to go, breaking clear with neither Miguel Angel Lopez or Alejandro Valverde able to respond – both finishing two seconds behind the stage winner.
The well-crafted victory sees the Briton move into a 20-second overall lead ahead of Movistar rider Valverde, with Nairo Quintana, who could only manage fifth on the final climb, down in third place five seconds further back.
Earlier in the 171km mountain route from Cistierna to Nava, there had been a six-man breakaway which included Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski, with the lead on the peloton up to around three minutes and 43 seconds heading into the final 75km.
Herrada struggled to keep up the place and dropped into a split chasing pack.
Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) made a move heading into the last 4km, but could not sustain the pace before Yates timed his attack to perfection on the steep slopes. Colombian Lopez crossed second, just ahead of Valverde.
Team Sky’s Dylan van Baarle, meanwhile, had been forced to abandon the race ahead of Saturday’s start after suffering a groin injury in a crash following the finish of stage 12, when he had placed second.
Sunday will see another mountain stage over 185.5km from Ribera de Arriba to the Lakes of Covadonga.
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