- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Defending champion Primoz Roglic retook the Vuelta a Espana overall lead on Thursday when he led the main contenders up a steep incline finish, just failing however to catch early escaper Magnus Cort Nielsen, who won stage six.
The final ascent to a hilltop castle on a sunny afternoon at Cullera was an imposing 1.9km climb at 9.4 percent gradient and delivered a confrontation between the overall contenders.
EF's Cort Nielsen clung on impressively to beat Roglic by a bike length, and could barely raise his arms in celebration at the finish.
"It was very close, I looked back at 150m and saw Roglic. I'm so happy," said the 28-year-old Dane.
EF teammate, and one of the pre-race fancied riders, Hugh Carthy, was dropped and lost around three minutes after Ineos, Jumbo and Movistar powered away in the final part of the stage.
Other potential GC riders to lose time on the steep incline were Briton Adam Yates who dropped 25sec and Spain's Bahrain Victorious leader Mikel Landa who was 27sec adrift of Roglic on the day.
- Brief break -
The defending champion initially took the overall lead by winning the opening day time-trial, before giving it up on day three in the hopes of avoiding the 90-minute daily media commitment facing the red jersey holder.
"Welcome to my world," Roglic told Rein Taaramae, who took the red on stage three and then complained of how long he had to spend in interviews.
Roglic now leads a trio of Movistar riders in the overall standings with Enric Mas at 25sec, Miguel Angel Lopez at 36 and Alejandro Valverde at 41 with Egan Bernal in fifth, also at just 41sec.
The Slovenian appears to be on powerful form after crashing out of the Tour de France in July before winning Olympic time-trial gold in Tokyo.
"At the end I had good legs so I did a little sprint," he said.
"We'll see who will be the strongest in Santiago," he said in reference to the stage 21 individual time-trial at the pilgrim town Santiago de Compostela.
"It's a long way until then," said the man who won the Vuelta in 2019 and 2020.
He reclaimed the red jersey from Kenny Elissonde of Trek who was one of the first riders dropped on the slopes up to the fortified summit finish line.
Friday's stage seven has six climbs, starting and ending with big ones as the race heads to a plateau behind the tourist region of the Costa Blanca.