BARCELONA (Reuters) - Alexey Lutsenko held on for his biggest career win in stage five of the Vuelta A Espana on Wednesday, with Chris Froome staying in the red jersey and extending his overall lead.
Astana Pro team rider Lutsenko celebrated his first Grand Tour stage win in the 175.7km run from Benicassim to Alcossebre, the Kazakhstani rider holding off Merhawi Kudus on the steep final climb to the finish to record a time of 4:24:58.
“In 2014 I did my first Vuelta and managed to get a second place, but this is the biggest win of my career, no doubt,” Lutsenko told reporters.
“It was very hard before the final climb and we were a bit alone out there. Into the headwind we knew it would be tough, especially with lots of guys chasing behind. In the end it was a great stage for me, and I want to thank my team mates.”
Team Sky’s Froome has a 10 second advantage on U.S. rider Tejay Van Gardener, with an overall time of 18:07:10, with the Briton looking in impressive shape after his Tour de France triumph.
Froome was set up by Team Sky’s Gianni Moscon, with Spaniard Alberto Contador matching his pace despite suffering recent stomach problems.
“My sensations were better than they have been for the past few days, and I’m pretty happy with how it went. We still have quite a bit of work to do,” said Trek-Segafredo rider Contador, who is participating in the Vuelta for the final time.
“I’m reasonably happy with how it is going. The crowd was really impressive and I’m happy that I could do something for them.”
Reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by Robin Pomeroy