24 Aug 2017

Froome in red in Spain

7:16 am on 24 August 2017

Briton Chris Froome has held on to the red jersey extending his lead after the fifth stage of the Vuelta A Espana.

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Photo: Supplied

Froome is bidding to become the first rider in almost four decades to take both the Tour de France and La Vuelta titles in the same year.

Astana Pro team rider Alexey Lutsenko celebrated his first Grand Tour stage win in the 175.7km run from Benicassim to Alcossebre, the Kazakhstani rider holding off Merhawi Kudus on the steep final climb.

"In 2014 I did my first Vuelta and managed to get a second place, but this is the biggest win of my career, no doubt," said Lutsenko.

Team Sky's Froome has a 10 second advantage on U.S. rider Tejay Van Gardener, with an overall time of 18:07:10, with the Briton looking in impressive shape after his Tour de France triumph.

Froome was set up by Team Sky's Gianni Moscon, with Spaniard Alberto Contador matching his pace despite suffering recent stomach problems.

"My sensations were better than they have been for the past few days, and I'm pretty happy with how it went. We still have quite a bit of work to do," said Trek-Segafredo rider Contador, who is participating in the Vuelta for the final time.

"I'm reasonably happy with how it is going. The crowd was really impressive and I'm happy that I could do something for them."

Nelson's George Bennett is the top New Zealand rider in the field, 27 minutes behind Froome in 116th place.