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Schleck Solos to Victory; Rodriguez Into Red; Battle Looming

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Frank Schleck took the breakaway win and Purito Rodriguez the lead jersey, but the real battle for the Vuelta a España still looms.

How you like me now?
How you like me now?
Jaime Reina, AFP/Getty

Trek Factory Racing's Frank Schleck broke out of his years-long slump to score a fine solo stage victory at the Vuelta a España today, outpacing Rodolfo Torres of the Colombia Team on the Alto Ermita de Alba's brutally steep ramps to escape for the win. The victory was his first of any kind, apart from the odd Luxembourg national title, since his 2011 Criterium International success and reminded us, perhaps one last time as he manages his twilight days, of the glory years when he was a Tour de France mountain climber of the highest order.

Ten minutes behind Schleck and his break-mates, the battle for Red took another set of twists and turns, as Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez wrestled the jersey off the back of Astana's Fabio Aru, reversing a one-second deficit into a one-second lead, but a gutty performance by the wilting Aru prevented anything more decisive from taking place, as the Sardinian sprinted down his Spanish rival in the closing meters after Purito had gotten away inside the final kilometer. Rafal Majka of Tinkoff-Saxo stuck around just behind them to keep his hold on third place.

But none of them can feel too comfortable about what transpired, as Giant-Alpecin's Tom Dumoulin improbably hung on to the leaders' group all day long, only conceding some space inside the last km and its brutal, short ramps of up to 30 percent. The Dutchman owns elite time trialling skills, and after tomorrow's rest day it'll be his turn to shine. Dumoulin currently sits 1.51 behind the lead of Rodriguez, 1.49 to Aru and only 16 seconds to Majka (another capable cronoman)... all margins he could reverse, though nothing is certain, given the state of everyone's legs at this point in time.

Results:

1. LUXFrank SCHLECK 214 Trek Factory Racing 05h 49 '56' '
2. COLRodolfo Andres Torres Agudelo 68 COLOMBIA 05h 51 '06' ' + 01 '10' '
3. ITAMOSER Moreno 158 CANNONDALE TEAM - GARMIN 05h 51 '44' ' + 01 '48' '
Four. NZLBENNETT George 191 LOTTO TEAM NL - JUMBO 05h 52 '38' ' + 02 '42' '
5. FRAPierre ROLLAND 161 Team Europcar 05h 52 '45' ' + 02 '49' '
6. ESPFRAILE Omar 44 Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 05h 53 '01' ' + 03 '05' '
7. ESPCarlos Quintanilla VERONA 79 ETIXX - QUICK STEP 05h 54 '22' ' + 04 '26' '
8. USAWarbasse Lawrence 99 IAM CYCLING 05h 55 '58' ' + 06 '02' '
9. ESPRODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin 181 Team Katusha 05h 58 '47' ' + 08 '51' '
10. ITAARU Fabio 21 Team Astana 05h 58 '49' ' + 08 '53' '

GC:

1. ESPRODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin 181 Team Katusha 67h 52 '44' '
2. ITAARU Fabio 21 Team Astana 67h 52 '45' ' + 00 '01' '
3. POLRafal MAJKA 201 TINKOFF - SAXO 67h 54 '19' ' + 01 '35' '
Four. NEDDUMOULIN Tom 174 GIANT TEAM - Alpecin 67h 54 '35' ' + 01 '51' '
5. ESPITURRALDE Mikel SNOW 6 TEAM SKY 67h 55 '16' ' + 02 '32' '
6. COLJohan Esteban Chaves Rubio 141 Orica-GreenEDGE 67h 55 '22' ' + 02 '38' '
7. ESPMORENO FERNANDEZ Daniel 186 Team Katusha 67h 55 '33' ' + 02 '49' '
8. COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander 125 Movistar Team 67h 55 '55' ' + 03 '11' '
9. ESPAlejandro Valverde Belmonte 121 Movistar Team 67h 56 '42' ' + 03 '58' '
10. RSALouis Meintjes 133 MTN - Qhubeka 67h 58 '06' ' + 05 '22' '