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Vuelta a España

Keukeleire grabs stage win in Bilbao as Quintana retains lead

The Vuelta moves back into the mountains on Saturday with the Colombian and Chris Froome set to battle it out for supremacy for the red jersey.

Jens Keukeleire (R) celebrates after crossing the finish line.

Belgium's Jens Keukeleire won a bunch sprint to clinch the 12th stage of the Vuelta a España on Thursday as Nairo Quintana retained the overall lead.

The 193.2km hilly race to Basque city Bilbao allowed Colombian Quintana and second-placed Chris Froome to take a backseat ahead of Saturday's trip into the Pyrenees, where they're likely to resume hostilities.

Froome eyeing Quinata's lead

Sky's Tour de France champion Froome is just 54 seconds back on red jersey holder Quintana in the overall standings, with Alejandro Valverde third at 1:05.

While Quintana is believed capable of extending his overall lead this weekend, Briton Froome will have a significant edge over the Colombian in the 20th stage 37km individual time trial.

Keukeleire's dash to the line

The 27-year-old Keukeleire of Orica easily won a dash to the line on Thursday as France's Maxime Bouet of Etixx came second and Italy's Fabio Felline of Trek took third.

"I suffered for this win, but I wasn't the only one out there suffering," Keukeleire said after his first major Tour stage success. "It's just a fantastic feeling to win a stage."

Friday's stage is a 213.4km run featuring four small hills as the peloton heads through France before arriving at Urdax Dantxarinea.

Vuelta standings after Stage 12

1. Nairo Quintana (Colombia / Movistar) 46:53:31" 2. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) +54" 3. Alejandro Valverde (Spain / Movistar) +1:05" 4. Esteban Chaves (Colombia / Orica) +2:34" 5. Alberto Contador (Spain / Tinkoff) +3:08" 6. Leopold Koenig (Czech Republic / Team Sky) +3:09" 7. Simon Yates (Britain / Orica) +3:25" 8. Michele Scarponi (Italy / Astana) +3:34" 9. David De La Cruz (Spain / Etixx - Quick-Step) +3:45" 10. Samuel Sanchez (Spain / BMC Racing) +3:56"

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