Lopez shows grit to win mountain stage as Froome extends Vuelta lead

Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez celebrates winning the 11th stage of

Tomasz Marczynski picked up a second stage win on this season's Vuelta A Espana by coasting to victory in stage 12 on Thursday with a gap of 52 seconds, while Chris Froome saw his overall lead reduced by 20 seconds after enduring a hapless finale.

Bora-Hansgrohe rider Majka was undaunted by the prospect of attacking the highest-category climb up the Sierra de la Pandera and broke clear in magnificent fashion to secure triumph.

Nibali had attacked on the climb, but was caught and overtaken by Froome. Rui Costa is a former world champion and a multiple Tour de France stage victor; Rafal Majka has also won three stages on the Tour, plus the polka dot jersey, and his climbing abilities need no introduction.

If stage 16 is all down to Froome, stage 15 was as much about his supporting cast, with Team Sky's domestiques giving their leader unstinting support on the short but punishing 129.5km stage from Alcala la Real.

Majka crossed the line 27 seconds ahead of Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez, with Nibali and Froome following four seconds further back. I had good legs and Patrick Konrad did a really good job with me in the break. I think it was the right decision, we've kept the energy for the stage tomorrow [Sunday], " responded Froome.




"It's all small steps at this stage", Froome said about the six seconds he added to his advantage over Nibali, increasing it to 1 minute, 1 second. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN) 0:31, 7.

On Sunday, a seat at one of the most feared of the test with a top finish of Alto Hoya de la Mora, in the Sierra Nevada, to over 2 500 m of altitude.

The final week of the race will stay in the north before its finish in Madrid on September 10.

Race favorite Froome had a mechanical issue with around eight km remaining in the 160.1 km (99 miles) stage from Motril to Antequera Los Dolmones and was forced to change bikes.

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