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Chris Froome saw his Vuelta a Espana lead cut to 59 seconds over Vincenzo Nibali after suffering a mechanical
problem and crashing towards the end of Thursday’s 12th stage.
Froome minimized the damage to his chances of a first Vuelta win by fighting back to finish 20sec adrift of the main group of general
classification favorites, including Nibali.
Poland’s Tomasz Marczynski won his second stage of the race as he took the 160.1km ride from Motril to Antequera in a time of 3hr 56min 45sec from Spanish duo Omar Fraile and Jose Joaquin Rojas.
An unexpected attack from Alberto Contador saw the three-time Vuelta champion gain 42sec on Froome, but he remains over three minutes behind the Briton in ninth overall in his final race before retiring.
Marczynski cashed in as an early 14-rider breakaway was allowed to fight out the stage win.
Back in the pack, Froome looked perfectly set to maintain his lead until disaster struck just over six kilometers from the finish.
The four-time Tour de France champion was forced to change bike due to a mechanical problem and then hit the floor seconds later as he tried to get back up to speed.
Froome’s Sky teammates Mikel Nieve and Wout Poels helped him limit the damage, but he couldn’t bridge the gap back to the Nibali group.
Contador had already launched a solo attack before Froome’s troubles and was rewarded as he was the first of the general classification favourites to reach the finish, 7min 25sec back on Marczynski.
Nibali was a further 22sec back alongside the rest of the riders in the top 10 bar Froome.
Colombia’s Esteban Chaves remains third overall, but is now just 2min 13sec down on Froome.
Friday’s largely flat 13th stage takes the riders 198.4km from Coin to Tomares.