Vuelta 12: Hesjedal takes massive mountain stage

Valverde holds on to slim lead overall

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal of the Garmin team won the 12th stage of the Tour of Spain on Friday, over 179.3km between Almeria and Col de Velefique.

Hesjedal won a sprint finish ahead of Spaniard David Garcia, one of a breakaway group of riders whom the Canadian joined in the final kilometres of a climb to the finish line.

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d'Epargne held the overall race leader's golden jersey ahead of Australian Cadel Evans (Silence) and Dutch rider Robert Gesink (Rabobank).

Gesink gained precious bonus points as a result of attacking at the end of the stage and moved to 18 seconds behind Valverde, who holds his seven-second advantage on Evans.

Hesjedal's Garmin teammate Tyler Farrar won stage 11 before the second of two rest days.

For a complete report with results and photos, visit

© 2009 AFP

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