Lopez doubles up at the Vuelta a España, Froome extends lead

George Bennett has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana after 11 stages

GETTY IMAGES George Bennett has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana after 11 stages

Froome finished fifth, 47 seconds back, but with the same time as title rival Esteban Chaves and six seconds ahead of 2010 Vuelta victor Vincenzo Nibali, who now trails the Team Sky rider by one minute and one second ahead of Monday's final rest day.

Nibali and Alberto Contador had attempted to gain some time on Tour de France champion Froome on the final ascent but were not able to put any significant distance between themselves and the red jersey holder, Nibali visibly frustrated with what he believed to be a lack of effort from the Spaniard. "Now I'm just so happy, not because I won, but for my teammates", Majka said.

Chris Froome crashed twice as rivals reduced his Spanish Vuelta lead in Stage 12 on Thursday, which was won by Lotto-Soudal rider Tomasz Marczynski.

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Lopez' victory resolved all doubt he could've been a one-hit wonder after his 11th stage victory, showing the cycling world the 23-year-old Astana rider must be taken seriously.

Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) at 0:27, 3. "And if we see an opportunity then we'll go for it".

"Again a really big thank you to my team for the work they did today".

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The three-time Vuelta victor, riding in his last race before retirement, launched his attack early with 26.5km remaining in the 129.4km stage 15.

At the conclusion of the 129.4km ride in Andalusia, Lopez crested the top of the highest point in the race to win by 36 seconds over Russia's Ilnur Zakarin of Katusha-Alpecin, with Dutchman Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) finishing third at 45 seconds. I think it was the right decision, we've kept the energy for the stage tomorrow [Sunday], " responded Froome.

Monday is the second rest day for the three-week race, which heads north on Tuesday with an individual time trial.

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More brutal climbs await in Sunday's short and steep 129km stage from Alcala la Real to Sierra Nevada with another special category climb to the finish at 2 500m altitude.

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