Italian cyclist Dario Cataldo won the 16th stage of the Tour of Spain on Monday, a punishing 183.5km mountain ride from Gijon to Cuitu Negru in northern Spain.

Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez of the Katusha team retained the overall leader's red jersey and stretched his lead over compatriot Alberto Contador, competing after a two-year doping ban.

Rodriguez will be praying he is not pipped for the title of a second major tour this year after leading the Giro d'Italia going into the final stage, a time-trial, and ended up finishing second overall by just 16 seconds to Canada's Ryder Hesjedal.

Cataldo, 27 and who rides for the Omega team, came home clear of second-placed Belgian team-mate Thomas de Gendt, who had stuck with him in a breakaway through most of the stage.


In the final stretch, Rodriguez and Contador battled for third position with the former prevailing after withstanding a Contador attack in the final kilometre of the climb to the peak of Cuitu Negru in the ski resort of Valgrande-Pajares.

The 33-year-old Rodriguez consolidated his position as overall tour leader, 28 seconds ahead of Contador, 2min 4 sec ahead of another Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and 4min 52 sec ahead of Britain's Chris Froome of Sky.

Rodriguez is just where he wanted to be ahead of Tuesday's rest day, with the Tour resuming on Wednesday with a 187.3km run from Santander to Fuente De.

"I have always said that the leader at the rest day will have a lot of possibilities and now I think it is going to be between Alberto, Alejandro and me," Rodriguez said.

But Contador, too, had high hopes.

"We could not get away from Purito (Rodriguez) who is really very strong. But I am very happy because we have given colour and emotion to this race and that's what it's about in the end," he added.

"I would like it if we could have a bad day with rain because rain tends to suit me."

Source: AFP