Spain’s Dani Navarro claimed his first Grand Tour stage victory as he won the 188.7km 13th stage of the Vuelta a Espana from Belorado to Obregon on Friday as compatriot Alberto Contador retained his overall lead.
Navarro make a break on the short climb to the finish line through Parque de Cabarceno with little over two kilometres to go and had just enough in the tank to see off fellow Spaniard Daniel Moreno and Dutch rider Wilco Keldermann into second and third respectively.
There was no change at the top of the general classification as all the leaders came in five seconds behind Navarro, so Contador stays 20 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde with Britain’s Chris Froome down in fourth 1min 20sec back.
An early breakaway of 11 riders was slowly whittled down as the stage through Cantabria passed over two category three climbs and a final category two climb over the Alto del Caracol before the stage headed towards Obregon.
The peloton finally caught the last escapee, Kazakstan’s Alexey Lutsenko, with seven kilometres remaining and Navarro positioned himself perfectly to get enough of a gap away from the general classification leaders to reach the finish line comfortably in front.
“I had to have a very good position once the peloton grouped together for the last climb,” said Navarro.
“From there I just tried to get the victory and it went very well.
“I feel I have achieved my objective and anything more that comes in the rest of the race will feel like a gift.”
After three days without any change in the general classification, Saturday’s 200.8km ride from Santander to La Camperona could see significant moves from the leaders with an 8.3km climb to the finish featuring gradients of over 19 percent.
However, Contador is increasingly positive about his chances of winning the race for a third time as he continues to feel no ill effects from the broken shinbone that forced him to retire from the Tour de France in July.
“I am leading for another day, but the difference between the riders is very small. The objective is to be in red again tomorrow.
“It will be a difficult day, not just for the final climb but the one before it.
“I am feeling good and I am very happy with how the leg is developing. I am not suffering any problems on the bike.” – Agence France-Presse