Madrid: Local rider Joaquim Rodriguez took the overall lead in the Tour of Spain after the race`s toughest stage, but with only five days left the final result is far from decided.
Rodriguez`s compatriot Mikel Nieve won the 16th stage, the third for his Euskaltel-Euskadi squad in this year`s tour.
Rodriguez powered out of a tiny pack of favourites with less than a kilometre to go to the sundrenched summit of Cotobello at the climax of the 181 km stage in the Asturian mountains, regaining the lead he held for one day earlier in the tour.
Fourth in this stage, the Katusha rider is 33 seconds ahead of Italy`s Vincenzo Nibali, with Ezequiel Mosquera of Spain 53 seconds back, signalling a tough contest over the next five days.
Stage winner Nieve dedicated the first victory of his career to one of the race`s previous leaders, his team-mate Igor Anton who crashed badly and dropped out on Saturday.
"Igor would have won overall for sure and when he quit like that it felt like our world had caved in," Nieve said.
The Tour of Spain finishes on Sept. 19th in Madrid.