Froome wins stage ahead of Quintana on Pena Cabarga
Chris Froome pipped Nairo Quintana to victory on the summit finish of the 11th stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Wednesday, but the Colombian held onto his overall lead.
Britain's Froome, aiming to become the first man to win both the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year since 1978, continued his fascinating shootout with Quintana after the latter claimed victory on Monday's 10th stage.
As close as it gets
Froome attacked towards the end of the category one climb up Pena Cabarga to win the 168.6km stage from Colunga in 3hr 44min 47sec. Quintana finished with the same time with Spain's Alejandro Valverde six seconds behind that duo in third.
However, thanks to the four-second difference in time bonuses awarded for first and second on the stage, Froome moved up to just 54 seconds back on red jersey holder Quintana in the overall standings, with Valverde third at 1:05.
Victory matched Froome's win on Pena Cabarga on the 17th stage of the 2011 Vuelta.
"I have got some special memories from 2011 here, but today, just to add to that is an incredible feeling," said the three-time Tour de France winner. "Definitely Quintana is really strong at the moment and he has the leader's jersey. I'm just trying to do as much as I can day by day now, and I hope that obviously I can keep getting closer to him."
Quintana had claimed Froome was still the favourite despite storming back into the leader's red jersey with victory on a gruelling climb to Lagos de Covadonga on Monday.
Counting the seconds
The Movistar rider insisted he needs a three-minute lead ahead of a 37km time trial on stage 19 to be assured of staying ahead heading into the final stage in Madrid due to the Briton's far superior time-trialling ability.
"I want as much time, he wants as much time - that's what makes the race exciting. It's good that we're in this position."
And Froome bit back at Quintana and Valverde's calls on Tuesday's rest day for power meters to be banned as they detract from the "spectacle" of riders relying on their instinct rather than data in judging how to tackle demanding climbs.
Team Sky's Froome is thought to rely much more heavily on power meters in balancing his efforts.
"Why not? And then we can also go back to single-speed bikes without gears, too," Froome said sarcastically when questioned whether he agreed with his rivals.