Contador retains lead as Gilbert takes stage

With only one day of racing left in Vuelta, Philippe Gilbert wins stage 19 as leader Contador loses time over rivals.

    Contador retains lead as Gilbert takes stage
    Belgium's Philippe Gilbert (L) of BMC Racing Team celebrates as he crosses finishing line to win stage 19 [AFP]

    Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert clinched his second stage win of the Tour of Spain Friday with a final surge while Spain's Alberto Contador held on to the overall leader's red jersey.

    Gilbert launched an attack less than a kilometre from the line of the 19th stage and broke ahead of a pack of around 40 cyclists to finish ahead of Spaniards Alejandro Valverde and Daniel Moreno.

    The BMC rider, who also won the ninth stage, completed the 178.4-kilometre (110-mile) 19th stage through completely flat terrain from Penafiel to La Lastrilla in four hours 56 minutes and 25 seconds.

    Contador, back in the saddle after a two-year doping ban, finished in 11th place, three seconds behind Gilbert, but he was able to hold on to the overall race lead with just two stages left.

    "It was complicated in the end. The last 30 kilometres were very tense," he said.

    Valverde, of the Movistar team, is in second place in the overall standings, 1min 35sec behind Contador, while compatriot Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha is third, 2min 21sec from the leader.

    "It will be really complicated to take the overall lead, unless a disaster hits Alberto. But I don't think so," said Rodriguez who has held the overall leader's red jersey for much of the race this year.

    The Tour continues on Saturday with a mountainous ride from La Faisanera to Bola del Mundo, a distance of 170.7 kilometres, that includes several first category climbs.

    The 21-stage race - one of cycling's three 'major tours' along with the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia - ends in Madrid on Sunday after covering a total distance of 3,300 kilometres.

    SOURCE: AFP


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