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Nibali Surrenders Vuelta Lead to Rodriguez

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After riding confidently at the front of the GC pack for 180 kilometers, Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas ran out of gas on the steep Cotobello slopes and surrendered the red jersey to Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha heading into the final rest day of the 2010 Vuelta a Espana. Nibali appeared to be on the verge of a major move to consolidate his position -- if not his slim lead -- by neutralizing his rivals on a day when they desperately needed to take time out of him. Had NIbali held on, his likely strength in Wednesday's time trial could put him in a dominant position. But he lost 37 seconds to Rodriguez in the final km as his form deserted him, and now trails the Katusha man by 33" overall. Ezequiel Mosquera of Xacobeo Galicia finished between the two main rivals and is within 22" of Nibali, 55" back of Rodriguez.

The stage victory went to Mikel Nieve of Euskaltel, who was delivered in the break to the foot of the final climb by teammate Amets Txurruka and methodically dropped his break-mates to climb home alone and give the stricken Basque squad a much-needed boost of morale. Euskaltel lost Igor Anton Saturday when he crashed out in the leader's jersey, and a stage win is a small measure of satisfaction, but better than none.

Results for today's Queen Stage of the Vuelta:

  1. NIEVE, Mikel EUS 4h 51’ 59’’
  2. SCHLECK, Frank SAX + 1’ 06’’
  3. DE WEERT, Kevin QST + 1’ 08’’
  4. RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin KAT + 1’ 22’’
  5. SÁNCHEZ, Luis León GCE + 1’ 32’’
  6. MOSQUERA, Ezequiel XAC + 1’ 40’’
  7. GARCÍA, David XAC + 1’ 42’’
  8. ROCHE, Nicholas ALM + 1’ 44’’
  9. SASTRE, Carlos CTT + 1’ 50’"
  10. NIBALI, Vincenzo LIQ + 1’ 59’’
  11. DANIELSON, Thomas GRM + 2’ 07’’
  12. MONCOUTIE, David COF + 2’ 33’’
  13. DI GREGORIO, Rémy FDJ + 3’ 24’’
  14. LE MEVEL, Christophe FDJ + 3’ 24’’
  15. VELITS, Peter THR + 3’ 24’’

And the overall picture (provisional):

  1. Rodriguez
  2. Nibali, at 33"
  3. Mosquera, at 55"
  4. Schleck, at 2.16
  5. Roche, at 3.01