LAGOS DE COVADONGA, Spain — Nairo Quintana retook the lead of the Spanish Vuelta after leaving his title rivals behind on the final grueling ascent to win Monday’s mountainous 10th stage.
Chris Froome fell back early on the special category climb to the Lagos de Covadonga summit, but the British rider recovered to finish third behind Robert Gesink.
Quintana shook off a fall that tore his shirt early in the stage to win back the red jersey that he conceded to David de la Cruz on Sunday.
The Colombian climbing expert won the 188.7-kilometer (117.2-mile) stage from Lugones to its finish in the northern mountains in 4 hours, 50 minutes, 31 seconds. Gesink, who had formed part of an early breakaway, crossed 24 seconds later, just ahead of Froome.
Quintana opened up a 57-second advantage over Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde, with Froome another second behind in third place overall.
Lagos de Covadonga, with gradients up to 17 percent, is considered one of the classic and most demanding ascents of the three-week race.
“I had always dreamed of winning here,” Quintana said. “It fills me with pride to leave my name on this great mountain.”
Despite having built almost a minute’s lead over Froome, Quintana said the three-time Tour de France winner was the man to beat with a time trial, which Froome excels at, still to come.
“(Froome) is still very close given what is ahead,” Quintana said. “We will have to keep doing what we are doing to build our lead because he is still the big favorite.”
While Valverde and Froome stayed within striking distance of Quintana, Alberto Contador’s chances of winning a fourth Vuelta took another blow.
Contador was the last rider able to stick with Quintana on the final climb, but he faded over the final 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) and finished over a minute behind.
The Spaniard entered the day almost two minutes behind, and that deficit grew to almost three minutes. He is fifth, behind Esteban Chaves.
Tuesday is the first of two rest days during the grand tour.