Valverde wins stage, Rodriguez leads

Collada de la Gallina, Spain – Spain's Alejandro Valverde won the eighth stage of the Tour of Spain as Joaquim Rodriguez retained possession of the leader's red jersey on Saturday.

Valverde, riding for the Movistar team, was adding this 174.7km ride from Lleida to Collada de la Gallina in Andorra to his win in the third stage in Alcaniz.

Movistar's Alejandro Valverde of Spain celebrates winning the eighth stage of the Tour of Spain. Credit: REUTERS

The 32-year-old prevailed in a sprint from Rodriguez and Saxo-Bank's Alberto Contador after the concluding climb up the Col de la Gallina.

Team Sky's Christopher Froome crossed the line in fourth, 15 seconds behind this trio.

In the overall standings Rodriguez continues to hold command from Froome, who lost ground to be placed 33sec behind the leader, and Contador, 40sec adrift, with Valverde 50s off the pace.

Contador, winner of the Vuelta in 2008, appeared best placed to win the stage when he opened up a gap of around 100m only for Rodriguez and eventual winner Valverde to dig deep and catch him to set up the final dash for the line.

Earlier the day was marked by a six-man breakaway comprising Amael Moinard (BMC) and Michael Buffaz (Cofidis), Australia's Cameron Meyer (Orica-Greenedge), Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Javier Ramirez Abeja (Andalucia) and Matijn Keizer.

At the foot of the final climb Meyer made a bid for glory only to be reeled in by the chasing favourites. – Sapa-AFP

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