Stybar wins 7th Vuelta stage, Nibali protects lead
MAIRENA DEL ALIJARAFE, Spain (AP) - Czech rider Zdenek Stybar won the seventh stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Friday, and Vincenzo Nibali of Italy maintained his overall lead.
Stybar broke away with Philippe Gilbert in the final kilometers of the 128-mile stage from Almendralejo to Mairena del Alijarafe and edged the world road race champion at the finish line.
The 27-year-old Stybar won the Eneco Tour this month. His stage win comes one day after Omega Pharma-Quickstep teammate Tony Martin had his long solo escape come up just short in the final stretch.
"It's a really beautiful day for me and my team after yesterday when Tony was fighting so hard. It was a perfect scenario,'' Stybar said. "It felt really good. The first stages were really hard for me, but today the win gives me a lot of confidence.
"You don't beat a world champion every day.''
Stybar finished with a time of 4 hours, 51 minutes, 27 seconds.
The flat stage didn't cause any changes at the top of the general classification.
Nibali, the Giro d'Italia champion, kept his 3-second lead over American rider Christopher Horner.
The day ended poorly for the Garmin Sharp team when the peloton passed through Seville, with Tyler Farrar stopping because of a flat tire before Daniel Martin was slowed by a fall.
After two transition stages, the Vuelta returns to the mountains on Saturday with a 104-mile ride starting in Jerez de la Frontera and ending in a climb to the category one summit finish at Alto de Penas Blancas.
The three-week race ends in Madrid on Sept. 15.
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