Cuitu Negru - Italian cyclist Dario Cataldo won the 16th stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Monday, a punishing 183.5km mountain ride from Gijon to here in northern Spain.
Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez of the Katusha team kept the leader's red jersey and stretched his lead over compatriot Alberto Contador, competing after a two-year doping ban.
Cataldo, 27-year-old cyclist of the Omega team, was alone at the finishing line, ahead of second-placed Belgian Thomas de Gendt of the Omega team who had stuck with him in a breakaway through most of the race.
In the final stretch, Rodriguez and main rival Contador of Saxo Bank battled for third position in the stage.
Rodriguez, nicknamed "Purito", withstood a Contador attack in the final kilometre of the climb to the peak of Cuitu Negru in the ski resort of Valgrande-Pajares of northern Spain's Asturias region.
The 33-year-old Rodriguez came in third and consolidated his position as overall tour leader, 28 seconds ahead of Contador and 2min 4 sec ahead of Alejandro Valverde.
Results on Monday from the 16th stage of the Spanish Vuelta, a 183.5km ride from Gijon to the winter resort of Valgrande-Pajares in Cuitunigru:
1. Dario Cataldo, Italy, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, 5 hours, 18 minutes, 28 seconds.
2. Thomas de Gendt, Belgium, Vacansoleil-DCM, 7 seconds behind.
3. Joaquin Rodriguez, Spain, Katusha, 2:39.
4. Alberto Contador, Spain, SaxoBank, 2:41.
5. Alejandro Valverde, Spain, Movistar, 2:58.
6. Nairo Quintana, Colombia, Movistar, 3:24.
7. Igor Anton, Spain, Euskadi-Euskaltel, 4:07.
8. Andrew Talansky, United States, Garmin-Sharp, 4:15.
9. Laurens Ten Dam, Netherlands, Rabobank, 4:18.
10. Robert Gesink, Netherlands, Rabobank, 4:21.
Overall Standings (After 16 of 21 stages):
1. Joaquin Rodriguez, Spain, Katusha, 63 hours, 38 minutes, 24 seconds.
2. Alberto Contador, Spain, SaxoBank, 28 seconds behind.
3. Alejandro Valverde, Spain, Movistar, 2:04.
4. Christopher Froome, Britain, Team Sky, 4:52.
5. Daniel Moreno, Spain, Katusha, 6:58.
6. Robert Gesink, Netherlands, Rabobank, 7:28.
7. Andrew Talansky, United States, Garmin-Sharp, 8:28.
8. Laurens Ten Dam, Netherlands, Rabobank, 9:00.
9. Igor Anton, Spain, Euskadi-Euskaltel, 9:11.
10. Nicolas Roche, Ireland, Ag2r La Mondiale, 11:44.