Froome takes Spanish Vuelta lead as Nibali wins 3rd stage
ANDORRA LA VELLA, Andorra (AP) — Vincenzo Nibali of Italy won the third stage of the Spanish Vuelta and Tour de France champion Chris Froome took the overall lead after a strong run in the first mountain stage on Monday.
Froome was ahead with about half a kilometer to go but Nibali made a charge in the final sprint to clinch the 158-kilometer (98-mile) stage from Prades to Andorra La Vella. Froome ended third, behind David De La Cruz of Spain.
The British rider has a two-second overall lead over three riders: De la Cruz, Nicolas Roche of Ireland, and Tejay Van Garderen of the U.S.
“I didn’t expect to get the red jersey so early in La Vuelta. It’s a great surprise,” Froome said. “It’s the result of lot of hard work from my teammates as well. They did a fantastic job on the final climb. To be in this position is something I’ve thought about for a long time, and I worked really hard after the Tour.”
Nibali moved to fifth overall, 10 seconds behind Froome.
“It was a difficult stage because of the heat,” Nibali said. “The pace was very fast.”
Froome is trying to become the third rider to complete the Tour-Vuelta double in the same season. He has never won the Vuelta, finishing second three times, including last year.
He led the way at the end of the final climb with about eight kilometers (five miles) to go, but lost time through a technical winding descent to the finish, eventually being caught up by the chasing pack.
Yves Lampaert of Belgium, who was wearing the leader’s red jersey after winning Sunday’s flat second stage, finished only 163rd, dropping to 147th overall.
Three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador, who is retiring from cycling after the race, finished 37th to move to 30th overall, more than three minutes from the lead.
Marc Fournier of France became the fifth rider to retire. He was involved in the crash that also saw Anass Ait El Abdia and Javier Moreno abandon on Sunday.