Britain’s Chris Froome insists he is relishing his duel with Nairo Quintana after he chipped away at the Colombian’s Vuelta a Espana lead with victory in stage 11.
Tour de France winner Froome pipped Quintana in a sprint finish to climb to second in the general classification after the rivals went it alone over the last 800m to Pena Cabarga in northern Spain.
Both riders received the same time but Froome’s dart across the line earned him a time bonus that moved him four seconds closer to Quintana, who now leads him by 54 seconds.
“Quintana is really strong at the moment and he has the leader’s jersey,” said the Team Sky rider.
“I’m just trying to do as much as I can day by day, and I hope that I can keep getting closer to him. I want as much time, he wants as much time – that’s what makes the race exciting.”
Quintana’s Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde followed the leading pair home but slipped to third overall, one minute and five seconds off the pace with 10 stages remaining.
Froome, striving to become the first cyclist to win the Tour de France and La Vuelta in the same season since 1978, registered the first win of his career at the same stage in 2011.
He added: “I’ve got some special memories here, to add to that is an incredible feeling.”