FERROL, Spain (AFP) –
Britain’s Stephen Cummings won the 13th stage of the Tour of Spain Friday with a well-timed attack at the end of the course, while Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez held on to the overall lead.
The 31-year-old BMC rider completed the relatively flat 172.8-kilometre (108-mile) ride from Santiago de Compostela to Ferrol in four hours, five minutes and two seconds, four seconds ahead of Australia’s Cameron Meyer.
Spain’s Juan Antonio Flech of Sky finished third.
The three were part of a group of seven riders who spent most of the day ahead of the rest of the peloton.
But as the break-away group’s unity began to fall apart in the final kilometres, Cummings launched an attack which his rivals could not match and he was the first to cross the finish line.
“The whole day was hard with the wind, but in the end I played it very well,” said Cummings, who broke his pelvis in February in the Tour of the Algarve in southern Portugal.
“This win is for my team for always supporting me, because it’s been a very difficult year.”
Rodriguez of Katusha kept his place on top of the overall standings as well as his 13 second advantage over his nearest rival, Spain’s Alberto Contador of Saxo Bank who is returning to competition after a two-year doping ban.
“It was a very difficult stage. In the break away group there were some very strong riders who had a fast stage, and it made it difficult for us,” said Rodriguez.
“There are still many days left in the Tour, I am still the favourite. I am feeling well but a 13 second lead is very small. If I am still the leader on the rest day on Tuesday, I will start to think that I could win the Tour.”
Britain’s Christopher Froome of Sky, the runner-up at this year’s Tour de France, is third in the overall standings, 53 seconds behind the leader.
The Tour continues on Saturday with a 149.2-kilometre ride from Palas de Rei and Puerto de Ancares, the first of three successive mountain stages that could determine the outcome of the race.
“I really prepared for this Tour and I can’t wait for it to reach the mountains. We will decide on a strategy depending on how my legs are,” said Contador.
The Tour of Spain, one of cycling’s three ‘major tours’ along with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, finishes on September 9 in Madrid.