September 11, 2015

AVILA, Spain (AP) Alexis Gougeard of France broke away from the pack and stayed ahead to win the 19th stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Friday, while Tom Dumoulin extended his slender overall lead.

Gougeard was followed across the line in the medieval walled city of Avila by Nelson Oliveira, with Maxime Monfort coming third in the rolling 185.8-kilometer (115-mile) stage.

Dumoulin set a fast pace on the final scramble while his main rival, Fabio Aru, lagged on the cobblestone surface. Although Aru retained second overall, he lost three seconds to go six seconds behind the Dutchman. Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain is third overall.

A pile-up after 70 kilometers (43 miles) of the stage affected both Dumoulin and Aru.

''I was behind the crash and needed to go into the gravel at the side of the road and ended up having to fix my bike,'' said Dumoulin, while Aru was seen receiving medical attention for slight injuries.

''These are hard days and everyone is attacking me,'' Dumoulin said, ''but I can handle it.''

Saturday's stage 20 is a 175.8-kilometer (109.2-mile) mountainous ride from San Lorenzo de El Escorial to Cercedilla that includes four category 1 peaks.

The 21-stage Vuelta ends Sunday with a ride into downtown Madrid.

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