- Vuelta a Espana, Stage Six
Rodriguez beats Froome to Stage Six win
Joaquin Rodriguez beat Chris Froome to victory in the sixth stage of the Vuelta a Espana at Jaca on Thursday.
Froome looked in good shape with around 0.2km of the 175.5km stage to go, but Katusha rider Rodriguez managed to pull past on the uphill finish to secure victory at five seconds ahead of Team Sky's Froome.
Alejandro Valverde placed third with Alberto Contador 18.5s off first place in fourth. Rodriguez now leads the race by 10 seconds over Froome and 35 seconds from Contador.
"It was a big battle and I'm really happy to have got the win," Rodriguez said. "I saw Froome go in the last part of the climb and so I gave it my all out of the final bend and secured the victory with 200 metres to spare."
Katusha got their strategy spot on: a five-man break escaped after 10km but the leaders were never allowed to establish a lead of more than four minutes. With the peloton closing, one of the quintet, Thomas de Gendt, decided to hit the accelerator inside the final 20km.
He managed to lose his fellow escapees but by the time he crossed the summit of the Cat.3 Puerto de Oroel climb he only had a 50-second advantage entering the last 15km. Contador, of Saxo Bank, led the chase on the descent and it was not long before De Gendt was overhauled. Team Sky then asserted themselves, taking control at the front, but Froome was unable to shake off Rodriguez.
The Brit launched his attack in the final kilometre, only for his rival to catch and pass him with relative ease. Stage Seven, a largely flat 164km route from Huesca to Alcaniz, takes place on Friday and should favour the sprinters.