Alcaniz - German John Degenkolb notched up a
hat-trick in the Vuelta on Friday, winning a crash-blighted seventh
stage but leaving Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez in the overall lead.
crossed the line ahead of Italian Elio Viviani of Liquigas and
Australian Allan Davis of Orica Greenedge after a 164km stage from
Huelva to Alcaniz in northeastern Spain.
The 23-year-old German of
the Argos-Shimano team had already tasted victory in the second and
fifth stages of the Tour of Spain, which was overshadowed Friday by news
of Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France victories
over doping charges.
In the latest stage of the Vuelta, a crash
threw a spanner in the works for Colombian Rigoberto Uran, taking down
half a dozen racers in the peloton and dragging him from overall fourth
position to 12th.
Rodriguez keeps the red jersey, but looking over
his shoulder are second-placed Briton Chris Froome of Sky Team 10
seconds behind, and in third Spaniard Alberto Contador of Saxo Bank
lagging by 36 seconds.
Two-time Tour de France champion Contador,
who won the 2008 tour, has been back in the saddle since August 6 after a
backdated two-year doping ban over a urine test in the 2010 Tour de
France that detected traces of banned substance clenbuterol.
29-year-old has vehemently denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing
substances, blaming instead a contaminated steak he ate on the eve of
Contador said he was satisfied with his first week.
am happy with the way this first part of the race has gone. I felt good
in Valdezcaray (fourth stage) and I managed to avoid being caught in
the wind," he said.
"In yesterday's race I didn't feel good
because of cramps. But you have to remember I have gone through long
weeks without competing. So it's normal I suffer a bit at first."
setting out on Friday's race, Contador praised Armstrong's "very
strong" character and battle against cancer Friday but refused comment
on the American's alleged doping.
"I don't know much about it and I have not read about the case," Contador told journalists.
he has a good head on his shoulders and a very strong character that
enabled him to confront his illness with absolute determination," said
"As for the proceedings, I don't want to comment as I have been told they are not finished," he said.
start of Spanish tour's seventh stage was dominated by a breakaway by
four men -- Spaniards Javier Aramendia of Caja Rural and Pablo Lechuga
of Andalucia, Czech Frantisek Rabon of Omega-Pharma and Dutchman Bertjan
Lindeman of Vacansoleil.
They joined forces from the third kilometre and managed to build up a lead of up to five minutes over the peloton.
29km to go to the end, the quartet was reduced to a trio as Lechuga
failed to keep up the pace under pressure from repeated attacks by Rabon
But with 15km left, the trio also had to throw in the towel as the peloton reined them in.
Saturday, the cyclists face a mountainous 174km eighth stage from
Lleida to the summit of Gallina in Andorra, terrain that could bring the
favourites to the fore again.