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Froome wins stage, Cobo keeps Vuelta lead

Updated: September 07, 2011, 13:26


Britain's Christopher Froome reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the 17th stage of the Spanish Vuelta cycling race over 211 kilometers (131.1-mile) starting in Faustino V and ending in Pena Cabarga, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Juan Manuel Serrano Arce)

PENA CABARGA, Spain (AP) British rider Christopher Froome won the 17th stage of the Vuelta on Wednesday, beating overall leader Juan Jose Cobo in a back-and-forth duel on a grueling final uphill climb.

Froome pushed ahead of Cobo in the last yards of the 131-mile mountain stage to finish in 4 hours, 52 minutes, 38 seconds. The Spanish rider was just 1 second behind.

Froome began the Vuelta supporting Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins, but now has a shot at his first race title after reducing Cobo's lead to 13 seconds.

Cobo, a native of the local Cantabria region, maintained the overall leader's jersey for the third straight day.

"I suffered a lot, I thought there was a moment I could lose the lead,'' Cobo said. "I fell behind and didn't know if I could catch up, but at the end I was able to get the energy from I don't know where.''

The recent mountain stages have shed the other contenders. Wiggins is now 1:41 back, and defending champion Vicenzo Nibali is 4:31 off Cobo's pace.

Thursday's 18th stage is a 108.5-mile ride from Solares to the Atlantic coastal town of Noja.

The 21-stage race then returns to the Basque country for the first time in 33 years before closing in Madrid on Sunday.

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