Chris Froome clawed back a late attack led by Alberto Contador to retain second place in the overall standings after stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana yesterday.
Froome was initially left trailing by the charge led by Contador (Tinkoff) and also including race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and fellow Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica), who started the day in third place.
But Froome soon managed to rejoin his main challengers and the four top riders in the standings crossed the line together, three minutes and 27 seconds behind stage winner Matthias Frank.
The IAM Cycling rider secured his long-awaited victory after springing out of a 28-rider breakaway group, which had established an early advantage over the peloton.
Frank was joined by Dario Caltaldo of Astana in the charge towards the line although Caltaldo subsequently flagged and Frank just managed to hold off the chasing pack at the line.
Team Sky’s Leopold Konig got within six seconds of Frank at the finish, with Dutchman Robert Gesink and Spaniard Pello Bilbao just behind.
The result leaves Quintana’s lead of Froome at three minutes and 37 seconds heading into stage 18 on Wednesday, with Chaves a further 20 seconds behind and Spaniard Contador in fourth.
Meanwhile Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen edged home favourites Dan McLay and Ben Swift in a dramatic sprint finish to clinch victory in stage four of the Tour of Britain at Builth Wells.
Expertly put in position by LottoNL team-mate Tom Leezer, Groenewegen burst clear and despite a spirited challenge by the British pair, held on to take victory at the line.
Belgian Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep) placed fifth to retain the yellow jersey.
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