September 08, 2016

GANDIA, Spain (AP) Nairo Quintana of Colombia preserved his lead of nearly four minutes over Chris Froome in the Spanish Vuelta after a relatively flat stage won by Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark on Thursday.

Quintana finished with the peloton to stay 3 minutes, 37 seconds ahead of Britain's Froome after the 200-kilometer (124-mile) route from Requena to Gandia on the Mediterranean coast, with Esteban Chaves of Colombia and Alberto Contador of Spain less than 30 seconds behind.

Nielsen thrived in the final sprint to beat Nikias Arndt of Germany and Jempy Drucker of Luxembourg at the line, with the peloton closely behind.

''I gave it a go today. It was amazing,'' Nielsen said.

Riders faced little adversity with only one small climb during the 18th stage.

Froome will have a chance to cut Quintana's lead during Friday's 37-kilometer (23-mile) individual time trial, which is one of his strengths.

Quintana, a two-time runner-up at the Tour de France, is seeking his first Spanish Vuelta title.

''We got another day behind us today,'' the Movistar rider said. ''I'm confident I can get a good time tomorrow.''

The Vuelta ends on Sunday.

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