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Cycling: Froome extends Vuelta lead in high mountains

By Richard Martin

(Reuters) - Chris Froome wrapped his hands closer around the Vuelta a Espana title after coming second in the high mountain stage 11 on Wednesday and opening a gap of one minute 19 seconds in the general classification.

Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez won the stage, his first victory in a grand tour, to move into the top 10 at the expense of Ireland's Nicolas Roche, who began the day third overall 36 seconds off the pace but ended it 4:45 behind Froome.

The Briton made up time in the gruelling stage from Lorca to Calar Alto in Andalusia - which featured 3,490 metres of climbing and finished 2,120 metres above sea level - with a late dash from the back to the front of the chasing pack behind Lopez.

Froome beat Dutchman Wilco Kelderman and Italy's Vincenzo Nibali to finish 14 seconds behind Lopez and take a six second bonus in his bid to become the first rider since 1978 to win a double of La Vuelta and the Tour de France.

Nibali overtook Esteban Chaves as Froome's nearest challenger and moved into second place overall, with the Colombian dropping from 36 seconds behind Froome before the stage to 2:33 adrift in third.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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