August 23, 2015

CAMINITO DEL REY, Spain (AP) Former Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali was thrown out of the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday for holding on to a support vehicle after being involved in a big crash on the second stage, which was won by Esteban Chaves of Colombia.

Officials said Nibali broke the rules by letting the support vehicle from his Astana team pull him along after getting back up following a crash about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the finish. The spill held up nearly two thirds of the peleton and several riders needed medical assistance, although no serious injuries were reported.

Nibali had to wait about a minute to get back on the road and officials said a video showed the Italian rider grabbed the support vehicle and held on for several meters. The Astana rider finished the stage nearly a minute and a half behind the leaders, before being expelled. Nibali won the Vuelta in 2010 before also claiming the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and the Tour in 2014.

Up front, Chaves beat Dutchman Tom Dumoulin in the sprint at the final summit to take the overall leader's red jersey. It was the first stage that counted toward individual times.

Tour de France winner Chris Froome of Britain finished 30 seconds behind in seventh place, crossing the line just after Colombian Nairo Quintana, who couldn't complete a late charge for the victory. Spaniard Joachim Purito Rodriguez was fifth and countryman Alejandro Valverde eighth.

Froome, the Vuelta runner-up in 2014, controlled his pace alongside Valverde to make sure he finished within range. Froome finished last year's Vuelta behind Alberto Contador, who is not defending his title after winning the Giro and tiring at the Tour this summer.

Quintana was in the four-man break at the end but couldn't keep up in the final climb. Dumoulin stayed close to Chaves until the final meters but eventually fell back.

The second stage took riders over 158.7 kilometers (98.6 miles) from Alhaurin de la Torre to a summit finish at Caminito del Rey.

The three-week Vuelta started with a team time trial on Saturday, but it didn't count toward individual times because of safety concerns over a route of narrow stretches on sandy dirt. The 7.4-kilometer (4.6-mile) stage from Puerto Banus to Marbella along Spain's southern coast was won by the BMC team.

Monday's third stage will be a 158.4-kilometer (98.4-mile) ride from Mijas to Malaga and should benefit sprinters.

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