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Cobo takes Vuelta lead with mountain stage win

Updated: September 04, 2011, 14:33

ALTO DE L'ANGLIRU, Spain (AP) Spanish rider Juan Jose Cobo took over the lead in the Spanish Vuelta from Bradley Wiggins on Sunday after winning a grueling mountain stage.

The 30-year-old Cobo, who had moved into striking distance on Saturday, pulled away from the other race favorites on the brutal uphill climb to the finish line in the foggy Asturias mountain pass of Alto De L'Angliru.

The Geox rider finished the 88-mile mountain course starting in Aviles in 4 hours, 1 minute, 56 seconds.

Cobo- winner of the Basque Country Vuelta in 2007- called the stage victory the most important of his career.

"My plan was to attack,'' Cobo said. "I attacked yesterday even though I didn't feel very well, but today I felt good and had to go for it despite not knowing how the rest were doing.''

Dutch rider Wouter Poels came in 48 seconds later, along with two-time winner Denis Menchov of Russia.

Wiggins, who led for the previous four days, was fifth - 1 minute, 21 seconds behind. The British cyclist dropped to third overall, 46 seconds off Cobo's lead. Wiggins' Sky teammate Christopher Froome is second, 20 seconds behind Cobo.

Defending champion Vicenzo Nibali performed poorly in the mountains for the second straight day and fell more than three minutes off the lead.

"Now it is easier than ever since I am first,'' Cobo said. "There are five stages to go, but the team is carrying me well. We'll see if we can hold up until Madrid.''

Monday is a rest day before the Vuelta heads toward the Basque country for the first time in 33 years.

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