Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez extended his overall lead winning the sixth stage of the Vuelta a Espana today ahead of Sky's Chris Froome.
Rodriguez (Katusha) came around Froome in the final 500m after the duo got a gap on what was left of the main peloton that included Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Froome is still well poised in second place overall having launched the attack in the closing metres that only Rodriguez could follow. The 27-year-old gained 21 seconds on Contador after the sixth stage having started the day with a narrow four second advantage.
Sky's Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran moved to the front of the peloton with about 2km to go and set such a pace that no one attacked on the climb to the finish. Rabobank's Robert Gesink, who started the day fifth overall, was among those to lose contact.
The 175km stage from Tarazona to Jaca was played out in searing heat and included two category three climbs within the final 20km.
A five-man break including Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Sharp), Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), Kristof Vandewalle (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) and Joost van Leijen (Lotto-Belisol) escaped within the first 10km of the race.
The group had a maximum time advantage of about four minutes and 18 seconds but Movistar, Sky and Saxo Bank all contributed to chase as the climbs drew nearer. De Gendt was the last of the escapees to be caught some 3km from the finish.
Vuelta a Espana 2012, stage six: Tarazona - Jaca 175.4km
1. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 4:15:56
2. Christopher Froome (Gbr) Sky 00-05
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 00-10
4. Alberto Contador (Esp) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 00-18
5. Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 00-19
6. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky 00-20
7. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 00-25
8. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing 00-27
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 00-28
10. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 00-32
General classification after stage six
1. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 21:45:06
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky 00-10
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 00-35
4. Rigoberto Uran n (Col) Sky 00-43
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 00-53
6. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00-54
7. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 01-04
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank 01-12
9. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 01-17
10. Juan Jose Cobo (Spa) Movistar 01-34
Team Sky set the pace on the final climb
Rodriguez uses his sprint to win and gain more time on his rivals
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Startlist
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Latest news
Porte puts Olympics snub to the side ahead of Vuelta debut
ITV to show Vuelta highlights
Froome to lead Sky at Vuelta
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Reports
Stage one report: Movistar win team time trial
Stage two report: Degenkolb wins, Swift third
Stage three report: Valverde victorious after Contador attacks
Stage four report: Rodriguez takes over lead after Valverde crashes
Stage five report:Degenkolb wins again
Stage six report: Froome gains time on Contador
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Photos
Stage two gallery
Stage three gallery Stage four galleryStage five gallery
Stage six gallery
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Route info and analysis
Vuelta a Espana 2012 route revealed
Vuelta 2012 route leaves time triallists out in the cold