Majka wins 14th stage of Vuelta, Froome keeps lead
SIERRA DE LA PANDERA, Spain (AP) — Polish rider Rafal Majka won the mountainous 14th stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Saturday, while Chris Froome maintained his overall lead.
Majka, who was third overall in the 2015 edition of this race, won on a solo breakaway up the final special-category ascent. The BORA-hansgrohe rider finished the 175-kilometer (108.7-mile) stage from Ecija to Sierra de La Pandera in 4 hours, 42 minutes, 10 seconds.
Miguel Angel Lopez was 27 seconds back in second.
Vincenzo Nibali beat Froome to a third-placed finish for the stage, grabbing a four-second bonus that shaved Froome’s lead over the Italian to 55 seconds.
Nibali attacked Froome on the climb, but the four-time Tour de France winner kept him close and then closed the gap with 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) left on the punishing final ascent.
Froome is trying to win the Vuelta for the first time after finishing the grand tour runner-up on three occasions.
Majka said he relished the win after dropping out of overall contention in earlier stages when he felt ill.
“So I am really happy, not for me, but for my teammates because they did a really great job,” Majka said. “I was really confident. I knew I had good legs.”
Wilco Kelderman moved into third place overall at 2:17 behind Froome. Esteban Chaves fell to fifth behind Ilnur Zakarin.
Riders face another tough test in the southern mountains on Sunday. The 15th stage is a 129.4-kilometer (80.4-mile) ride over two category-one climbs before a special-category finish at Alta Hoya de la Mora.
The three-week race ends in Madrid on Sept. 10.