MADRID – Australian Rohan Dennis, of BMC, time-trialled to victory on stage 16 of the Tour of Spain on Tuesday as Britain's Simon Yates increased his overall lead on rival Alejandro Valverde.
Former individual pursuit specialist Dennis clocked 37min 57sec to win the stage, held on a rolling, 32km course between Santillana del Mar and Torrelavega.
It was Dennis's second stage win of the 'Vuelta', after he also dominated the opening 8km time trial in Malaga and the perfect way to end his race.
Dennis confirmed he would leave the race so he can rest and prepare for the team time trial and individual time trial at the world championships later this month.
Although Mitchelton rider Yates increased his lead over 2009 champion Valverde to 33sec, the Englishman will be poised for challenges over the final days of the race.
“I'm happy with my result, I know I extended my lead, so as far as I'm concerned it's a very good ride,” Yates said. “I was quite conservative at the beginning and then gave whatever I had left so it was a good day, but we have a long way to go.”
While Yates finished 1:28 behind Dennis, red jersey rival Steven Kruijswijk moved back into contention for overall victory by finishing fourth, 51sec behind the Australian.
The Dutchman, who rides for Lotto-NL, has moved up to third overall at 1:15, ahead of Colombian duo Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).
Quintana conceded 1:19 to Kruijswijk and 42secs to Yates, meaning he drops to fourth overall, 1:15 adrift of the lead.
“I defended myself quite well, considering my abilities,” said Quintana, who excels on steep climbs. “But I knew I was going to give up time. The mountain stages start tomorrow (Wednesday), it will be a key day so let's see what happens.”
Dennis's teammate Joseph Rosskopf and Team Sky's Jonathan Castroviejo were second and third fastest respectively in the time trial, with each still 50 seconds behind the frontrunner.
The race continues on Wednesday with stage 17, a 157km ride between Getxo and Balcon de Bizkaia.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)