Froome ticks off another summit finish to boost historic Vuelta bid

Polish rider Rafal Majka took the stage by an impressive margin of 27 seconds, picking up his first win at La Vuelta to go with three stage victories at the Tour de France, where he was King of the Mountains in 2014 and previous year.

Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez was 27 seconds back in second with Nibali snatching third from Froome as they both finished 31 seconds behind Majka.

Lopez, who claimed his first Grand Tour win in Wednesday's 11th stage, broke clear in the final five kilometres to win the mountainous 129.4km climb from Alcala la Real to the Sierra Nevada at 2,500m above sea level in 3hr 34min 51sec. I'm going to try to win another victory, " he promised.

But Froome's overall lead was trimmed by four seconds as Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), second overall, pipped him to third place on the day, picking up four bonus seconds on the line. On paper it looked like it was less hard, especially from 3km to 2km to go.

"It's an fantastic feeling to still be the leader and to have survived a stage like today", said Froome, who is aiming to become only the third man to win the Tour de France and the Vuelta in the same season.

I can't thank my team-mates enough. "It didn't work out today but I am sure it will in the future".

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Four-time Tour de France victor Froome needed help from two Sky teammates to limit the time lost after he tumbled to the asphalt twice on the stage's descent to the finish line.

Russia's Ilnur Zakarin was second behind Lopez, 36 seconds off the pace, with Wilco Kelderman third.

"We've seen everything in this Vuelta: crashes, attacks, I think I can expect everything next week", he added.

Tomorrow is a rest day, and racing resumes on Tuesday (September 5) with a 40.2km time trial from Circuito de Navarra to Logrono.

We knew Majka was stronger than most of us in this kind of stage finish and his teammates did a great job in supporting him throughout.

  • Regina Holmes