Spanish rider Joaquin Rodriguez seized the overall lead of the Tour of Spain after Tuesday's 10th stage, won by his compatriot Imanol Erviti.
The Katusha rider replaced another Spaniard, Igor Anton, in top spot in the overall standings after he picked up two bonus seconds in an intermediary sprint in the 175.7-kilometre ride from Tarragona to Vilanova i la Geltru in northeast Spain.
He had done the same thing in Saturday's 8th stage but that intermediary sprint was annulled due to a massive fall, and Rodriguez watched Anton take the red jersey.
"The team worked very well and we finally made it," Rodriguez said Tuesday.
"All my teammates deserved it. It was very important for them to take the (leader's) jersey and we will try to keep it until Madrid," he said.
But he warned that on Wednesday's mountainous stage "it will not be easy to control" the race.
Rodriguez has a two-second lead over Anton, while Italy's Vincenzo Nibali is in third, four seconds behind the leader.
"The Katusha team deserved (the leader's jersey) because they have done a lot of work," said Anton. "You have to see the good side, we are not going to work so much from now on to defend the red jersey."
Erviti pulled away from a group of breakaway riders about 20 kilometres from the finish and reached the line on his own.
He finished 37 seconds ahead of a group of seven riders led by Belgian Romain Zingle, with the main pack 1 minute, 38 seconds behind the winner.
The Spaniard admitted he had taken some risks in the final descent.
"I had a few seconds which allowed me to reach the line alone," he said. "It was one of the best moments of my professional career."
Tuesday's stage was also marked by the expulsion of Luxembourg's Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck and his Australian Saxo Bank team-mate Stuart O'Grady, who were dropped for breaking the team's rules by going out for a drink.
Wednesday's 11th stage takes the riders 208.4 kilometres from Vilanova i la Geltru to the ski resort of Pal in the tiny principality Andorra in the Pyrenees mountains.
© AFP 2010
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