Britain's Chris Froome has vowed to continue fighting for his maiden Vuelta a Espana crown despite trailing race leader Nairo Quintana by more than three minutes after stage 16.
Team Sky’s Froome finished alongside Quintana in the peloton as Luxembourg’s Jean-Pierre Drucker out-sprinted Rudiger Selig of Germany to win the 156.4km stage from Alcaniz to Peniscola.
The 31-year-old is bidding to become the first man to win both the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same season for 38 years, and despite sitting three minutes and 37 seconds adrift of Quintana, he is refusing to throw in the towel.
“I’m still in second place, which obviously I’m happy about, but I am a lot further back than I was going into yesterday [Sunday], so obviously that was a big blow,” said Froome.
“But that’s cycling. Things can change in the blink of an eye and I’ve got to keep fighting to the end. Of course, I’m not just going to give up now. It’s less possible than it was before, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying.”
Holland’s Steven Kruijswijk led by more than three minutes heading into the final three stages of May’s Giro d’Italia but suffered a heavy crash and ended proceedings one minute and 50 seconds down in fourth place.
The race has a rest day on Tuesday before resuming on Wednesday with a 177.5km 17th stage ending with a summit finish at Camins del Penyagolosa in Llucena – one of five remaining stages.