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Froome equal to Contador as Valverde wins Stage 3

ESPN staff
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Alejandro Valverde pipped Joaquin Rodriguez in a sprint finish © PA Photos
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Chris Froome demonstrated his impressive climbing skills as he kept pace with the leaders on Stage Three to boost his hopes of winning the Vuelta a Espana.

The Team Sky leader was equal to every attack made by Alberto Contador as Alejandro Valverde won the stage.

A late charge from Valverde saw him pip compatriot Joaquin Rodriguez to the stage win as only the two Spaniards and Froome could handle the pace of Contador as the peloton finished six seconds off the pace.

Contador, competing in his first race since returning from a doping suspension, took the fight to his rivals on the climb up the Alto de Arrate, but despite being dropped on a number of occasions Froome dug deep to finish third and keep himself in touching distance of the leaders.

Valverde, who takes a 12-second time bonus for the stage win, takes charge of the red jersey. He holds an 18-second lead over Movistar team-mate Benat Intxausti, with Froome sitting in fourth, 20 seconds off the pace and four seconds ahead of Contador.

Froome will resume his battle with Contador on Tuesday, when the 160.5km stage will provide him an opportunity to make inroads on the climb up the Puerto de Orduna ahead of the summit finish in Valdezcaray.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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