ALTO DE VELEFIQUE, Spain (AP) — Damiano Caruso won the ninth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday, with Primoz Roglic finishing second to keep the overall lead.
Caruso was in front for the last 70 kilometers (43 miles) of the 188-kilometer (116-mile) ride from Puerto Lumbreras to a summit finish atop the beyond-category Alto de Velefique.
Caruso was coming off a second-place finish overall at the Giro d'Italia, his best finish yet at a Grand Tour race.
“It’s incredible for me to achieve this after the Giro," said Caruso, the Italian rider for Bahrain Victorious. "The last climb was so long. I knew it was getting tight. I focused on my own tempo. When we did the last few kilometers, I realized I had a chance to win.”
Caruso finished more than a minute ahead of Roglic, the Vuelta's two-time defending champion. Enric Mas was third, crossing the line just behind Roglic.
Roglic's strong finish gave him a 28-second gap to Mas in the overall standings. Miguel Angel Lopez was third overall, more than a minute behind Roglic.
Riders have their first rest day on Monday ahead of a mostly flat stage with a single mountain pass near the end.
“We deserve the rest day," Roglic said. "It was a hard day. Again it was super hot, with some big climbs so I’m looking forward to tomorrow (Monday). It’s the beginning. Now we have the rest day and we need to stay in one piece with the full team and I’m looking forward to the next stages.”
The three-week Grand Tour race finishes at Santiago de Compostela.
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