Solid run puts Froome back in control in Spanish Vuelta

CAMALENO, Spain (AP) Chris Froome retook control of the Spanish Vuelta with a solid run in a stage won by Belgian rider Sander Armee on Thursday.

Froome struggled in the difficult climb of Los Machucos on Wednesday, losing 42 seconds to his challengers, but he recovered with a strong charge in the final climb of the 169-kilometer (105-mile) stage from Suances to Camaleno in northern Spain.

The Tour de France winner increased his overall lead to 1 minute, 37 seconds over Vincenzo Nibali of Italy.

Wilco Kelderman of the Netherlands is third, more than two minutes behind Froome.

''Today worked out perfectly in my favor,'' said Froome, who is seeking his first Vuelta title. ''It feels great (to gain time on Nibali), especially after a difficult day yesterday. The morale is still good, the team is still strong, and we're just looking forward to getting through these next couple (of) days.''

Armee entered the final kilometer together with Alexey Lutsenko of Kazakhstan, but the Belgian broke free with about 500 meters to go and comfortably won the stage by 31 seconds. Giovanni Visconti of Italy was third, 46 seconds behind Armee.

It was Armee's first win in his eighth year as a professional rider.

''I had to wait quite a long time to win a race,'' he said. ''I came close a couple of times, I did my work for the team ... but at this Vuelta I get the chance to put myself in a free role and do my own race. I felt better and better during the stage and I just went full gas on the last climb.''

On Friday, riders will travel 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Caso to Gijon in the Asturias. They will face the San Martin mountain pass, which has difficult slopes and could shake up the overall standings.

Froome is trying to become the third rider to complete the Tour-Vuelta double in the same season.

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