Ruta del Sol: Alberto Contador beats Chris Froome to victory on stage three
Last Updated: 20/02/15 6:53pm
Alberto Contador extended his overall lead of the Ruta del Sol by climbing to a commanding victory over runner-up Chris Froome on stage three.
Contador moved into a solo lead with just under 7.5km of the climb to the summit finish at Alto de Hazallanas remaining and went on to beat his arch rival by 19 seconds.
The result elevated Froome to second in the general classification, but his deficit to Contador has grown to 27 seconds.
Contador said: "I’m very glad for this victory. I decided to go early, accelerate and go alone. I knew it would be difficult to catch me. I felt good and I wanted to repay my teammates with a win.”
The Team Sky rider looked to be out of the equation when Contador rode away from him and the rest of the peloton, but as he did so often at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, he mounted a slow but significant recovery.
Froome initially found himself in the second chase group, more than 30 seconds behind the Spaniard, but he then started moving through the field and had reduced his arrears enough by the finish line to keep the race for overall victory alive.
Romain Bardet finished third on the day, although the fact he crossed the line 1min 22sec down on Froome underlined the gulf in class between the front two and the rest of the peloton.
Froome's team-mate and fellow Briton Peter Kennaugh has climbed to fifth overall, 2min 28sec down, after finishing the stage eighth, while Mikel Nieve finished fifth on the day for the British squad.
Contador and Froome will resume their battle on Saturday's fourth stage, which ends with a summit finish on Alto de Allanadas.
Stage three result
1 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff-Saxo, 4:19:16
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +19secs
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:41
4 Benat Intxuasti (Esp) Movistar, +1:58
5 Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, +2:01
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, +2:05
7 Merhawi Kudus (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka, +2:15
8 Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky, +2:16
9 Sebastien Reichenbach (Sui) IAM Cycling, +2:30
10 Sergio Pardilla (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, +2:42
1 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff-Saxo, 12:22:55
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +27
3 Benat Intxuasti (Esp) Movistar, +1:59
4 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:13
5 Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky, +2:28
6 Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, +2:30
7 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Sky, +3:19
8 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling, +3:41
9 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, +4:10
10 Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, +4:15