Wednesday September 5, 2012
Rodriguez takes big step towards Tour of Spain victory
CUITU NEGRU (Spain): Spainís Joa≠quim Rodriguez edged closer to the Tour of Spain title after finishing third in the raceís toughest mountain stage behind winner Italyís Dario Cataldo on Monday.
Rodriguez successfully fended off three major attacks by Spainís Alberto Contador on the daunting final climb of Cuitu Negru, 23km long and with slopes of up to 24 %.
Rodriguez finally darted ahead of Contador on the relentlessly steep final 500m ascent to claim third place and a four-second time bonus. It allowed him to stretch his overall lead by a further two seconds.
After three strong mountain-top finishes, Rodriguez opened a 28-second advantage over Contador, with Spainís Alejandro Valverde trailing more than two minutes behind in third.
Britainís Chris Froome, who suffered badly and lost two minutes and 20 seconds on the other favourites, is fourth overall.
Rodriguez identified the raceís one tough mountain-top finish in the Bola del Mundo outside Madrid next Saturday as the biggest obstacle between himself and victory. ó Reuters