Alberto Contador maintains lead as Hansen claims stage win

Australian Adam Hansen mounted a successful attack about four km from the finish to win the 19th stage at the Tour of Spain on Friday as Alberto Contador held on to the leader`s red jersey with two stages remaining.

Alberto Contador maintains lead as Hansen claims stage win

Madrid: Australian Adam Hansen mounted a successful attack about four km from the finish to win the 19th stage at the Tour of Spain on Friday as Alberto Contador held on to the leader`s red jersey with two stages remaining.

Lotto Belisol rider Hansen outsprinted Germany`s John Degenkolb of Giant-Shimano in the final stretch of the 180.5-km trek into Cangas do Morrazo, with Italian Lampre Merida rider Filippo Pozzato third.

It was Hansen`s first stage win at the Vuelta and his second overall in his 10th successive Grand Tour appearance after he won a stage at the Giro d`Italia last year.

Tinkoff-Saxo rider Contador lost 20 seconds to his closest challenger, Team Sky`s Chris Froome, on Thursday`s 18th stage but managed to avoid a similar fate on Friday and is closing in on a third triumph at his home race.

The double Tour de France champion has a lead of one minute and 19 seconds over Briton Froome, with another Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, third, one minute and 32 seconds adrift.

Saturday`s hilly penultimate stage takes the racers into Puerto de Ancares and Contador said he would be watching Froome closely.

The pair opted to ride the Vuelta after abandoning the Tour de France in July. Froome pulled out during the fifth stage after crashing, while Contador left the race in the 10th leg after breaking his shinbone.

"Tomorrow we have to see how the stage develops," the Spaniard told Cadena Ser radio.

"In principle the rider who is a bit more dangerous than the rest is Froome but if I have the legs I don’t think it’s going to be a problem," he added.

"He is strong and each day he sets his sights higher and it’s going to be tough to follow him. In the end you have to maintain your confidence and trust in the legs."

The Vuelta ends on Sunday with a 10km time trial in Santiago de Compostela. 

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