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Keukeleire wins in Bilbao, Quintana retains Vuelta lead

Stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana was won in a sprint finish by Jens Keukeleire on Thursday.

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Jens Keukeleire of Orica-BikeExchange won stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana as Nairo Quintana retained the overall lead ahead of Chris Froome.

Keukeleire got the better of Etixx - Quick Step's Maxime Bouet and Trek-Segafredo rider Fabio Felline to cross the line first in Bilbao on Thursday and secure his biggest stage victory to date.

Dries Devenyns of IAM Cycling led after the final descent of the 192.3km route from Los Corrales de Buelna into Basque Country, pursued by his team-mate Simon Yates and Trek-Segafredo's Haimar Zubeldia.

A small peloton just behind them and then the main group itself caught up with the three frontrunners, prompting a sprint won by a well-timed burst from Keukeleire, who recorded a time for the stage of four hours, 31 minutes and 43 seconds.

"I've been going pretty well the last couple of days, but I still knew it was going to be hard to win today," he said.

"[Team manager] Neil Stephens said to me: 'If you're still there in the final, you can give it a crack.

"I'm not going to say I was feeling very good today because everybody was suffering but I made it over the climb and knew I could get a good result."

Tinkoff's Alberto Contador, racing on home soil and fifth overall, was the only heavyweight to mount an attack on the final two ascents of the stage, as Quintana, his Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde and Froome of Sky held back.

Colombian Quintana leads by 54 seconds from Tour de France winner Froome, with Valverde a further 11 seconds back.

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