Kessiakoff wins Vuelta leg; Rodriguez keeps lead
PONTEVEDRA, Spain (AP) - Joaquin Rodriguez held a slim overall lead Vuelta on Alberto Contador in the Spanish after finishing seventh in the time trial on Wednesday.
Fredrik Kessiakoff won the 24.5-mile, 11th stage individual sprint by 17 seconds over Contador. Rodriguez finished 1:16 behind Kessiakoff to retain a one-second lead over 2008 champion Contador.
Christopher Froome finished 39 seconds behind the Astana cyclist's winning time of 52 minutes, 36 seconds. He's 16 seconds behind Rodriguez in third overall.
Contador moved ahead of Froome into second in the overall standings but couldn't overtake Rodriguez.
"To have Alberto second is like having the devil in your ear,'' Rodriguez said. "My legs felt like they were going to explode.''
Contador's fresher state may help his push for a second Vuelta title after he arrived at the 67th edition of the classic with little racing because of a doping ban since February.
"The Vuelta really starts now,'' Contador said.
The Spanish cyclist gained time over his rivals in the climb to Monte Castrove after 14 miles. He was fastest among his top rivals in negotiating the steep and curvy descent, with Froome showing nerves navigating the thin stretch of road.
"It's good to have been stronger than Chris Froome in a discipline that favors him. So while I managed a good time against the other favorites, I wanted to win the stage,'' said Contador, who is racing in his first major event since serving a ban that stripped him of his third Tour de France title in 2010.
The 21-stage, three-week race ends in Madrid on Sept. 9.
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