Dutch rider Bert Jan Lindeman won Friday’s seventh stage of Spain’s Vuelta at La Alpujarra summit during a first stage in the mountains which proved gruelling for Britain’s Chris Froome.
The Lotto-Jumbo rider withstood the searing Andalusian heat, powering ahead of Belarusian Ilia Koshevoy of Lampre and Italy’s Fabio Aru of Astana at the line.
France’s Jerome Cousin of Europcar finished fourth after taking a tumble in the final straight while en route to victory.
Colombian Johan Esteban Chaves of Orica-GreenEdge holds the leader’s red jersey, gaining valuable time on Tour de France winner Froome, who crossed the line some 27 seconds behind the favourites.
Sky’s Froome is bidding for a Tour-Vuelta double but fell outside the top ten in the overall standings and is now 12th at 1min 22sec after the first test at altitude.
The summit finish favoured the breakaway group with five riders including Lindeman building up a 13-minute lead on the peloton at one point with the Dutch rider proving the strongest and most cunning in the final race for the line.
“For me, it’s unexpected to win on our arrival in the mountains, with so many riders targeting the overall standings,” said Lindeman.
The 26-year-old cleverly let his rivals tire themselves out by repeatedly attacking before he broke through with the decisive acceleration.
“It’s never easy,” said Chaves, 25.
“It was a long day with sweltering heat. I’m very happy, each extra day in the red jersey is an important day.”
“I feel good, my legs are very good. To be with the best is an honour for me.”
Froome’s title rivals — Fabio Aru (Astana), Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) – all profitted from the Briton’s difficulties.
“27 seconds is a considerable amount of time against an important rival,” said Quintana, second in the Tour de France this year behind Froome.
Saturday’s eighth stage will leave Andalusia with the 182.5km run from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia largely set to favour the sprinters despite a category three climb to cross twice in the final 40km.
Results from the seventh stage of Spain’s Vuelta, a 191.1km ride from Jodar to Alto de Capileira on Friday:
1. Bert Jan Lindeman (NED/LNL) 5hr 10min 24sec (average: 36.9 km/h), 2. Ilia Koshevoy (BLR/LAM) at 0:09, 3. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 0:29, 4. Jérôme Cousin (FRA/EUC) 0:34, 5. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 0:36, 6. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) 0:36, 7. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0:36, 8. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:36, 9. Louis Meintjies (RSA/MTN) 0:36, 10. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SKY) 0:36,11. Daniel Martin (IRL/CAN) 0:36, 12. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 0:36, 13. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 0:36, 14. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) 0:36, 15. Mikel Nieve (ESP/SKY) 0:45, 16. Amets Txurruka (ESP/CJR) 0:51, 17. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 1:03, 18. Bart De Clercq (BEL/LOT) 1:03, 19. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 1:03, 20. Frank Schleck (LUX/TRE) 1:03.
1. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) 27h06min 13sec, 2. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) at 0:10, 3. Daniel Martin (IRL/CAN) 0:33, 4. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SKY) 0:36, 5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0:49, 6. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 0:56, 7. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:57, 8. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 0:57, 9. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 1:18, 10. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 1:19, 11. Mikel Nieve (ESP/SKY) 1:21, 12. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 1:22, 13. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 1:29, 14. Mikel Landa (ESP/AST) 1:39, 15. Louis Meintjies (RSA/MTN) 1:51, 16. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 2:05, 17. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 2:24, 18. Gianluca Brambilla (ITA/ETI) 2:25, 19. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 2:50, 20. André Cardoso (POR/CAN) 2:51
– Agence France-Presse