CALAR ALTO, Spain — Chris Froome increased his lead of the Spanish Vuelta on Wednesday, finishing second in the mountainous 11th stage behind Astana rider Miguel Angel Lopez.
The 23-year-old Lopez won his first grand stage tour, with the Colombian finishing the 187.5-kilometer (116.5-mile) ride from Lorca to the Calar Alto summit in 5 hours, 5 minutes, 9 seconds. Froome was second, 14 seconds back, edging title rival Vincenzo Nibali.
Froome now leads second-placed Nibali by 1:19 overall.
On a rainy day in southern Spain, four-time Tour de France champion Froome took another step toward improving on his three runner-up finishes at the Vuelta.
Esteban Chaves and Nicolas Roche started the day 34 seconds behind Froome overall but both faded on the stage’s second category-one climb that finished at the Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory.
Chaves fell to third overall and is 2:33 behind Froome, while Roche tumbled to 11th at 4:45 off the pace and well out of contention.
Former champions Fabio Aru and Alberto Contador also lost time. Aru slipped to 2:57 back in seventh place, while Contador ended the stage almost four minutes slower.
Froome and his Sky teammates withstood the hard pace set by Nibali’s Bahrain-Merida team, catching the Italian on the final push. Only a daring Lopez got away when he set off over the final 200 meters (yards).
“It was a very hard stage due to the rain, which made it more demanding,” Lopez said. “I found my best legs at the end. I stayed patient and waited for my moment to attack.”
Thursday’s 12th stage is a hilly 160.1-kilometer (99.5-mile) ride from Montril to Los Dolmenes.
The three-week race ends in Madrid on Sept. 10.