Simon Yates wins 6th Vuelta stage, Atapuma keeps lead

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LUINTRA, Spain (AP) — English rider Simon Yates won a hot and hilly sixth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Thursday, while Darwin Atapuma of Colombia kept the overall lead for a third consecutive day.

Yates, the twin of fellow cyclist Adam Yates, completed the 163-kilometer (101-mile) route from Monforte de Lemos to Luintra in just over four hours. It was the 24-year-old Yates' first win at a grand tour.

The Orica BikeExchange rider attacked on a short ascent less than four kilometers from the finish and sped away for the victory by 20 seconds over runner-up Luis-Leon Sanchez.

Atapuma and title favorites Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador came in a group half a minute after the winner.

"I managed to take my opportunity at the finish," Yates said. "It wasn't planned. We just wanted to make it a hard day."

The stage only had one level-2 category climb, but the rolling route of constant ups and downs along narrow country roads wore down all but the hardiest riders and allowed attacks from distance.

Omar Fraile first threatened on a breakaway. He built a three-minute lead halfway through the stage, before he was caught and passed by Mathias Frank.

Yates set out after late chaser Dani Moreno, whose Movistar team had led the pursuit, and passed both Moreno and Frank to ride alone to the finish.

Yates called the stage "pretty crazy."

"Lots of twists and turns, hard roads as well, but it came out perfectly in the finish," Yates said. "I timed my attack to perfection."

His win comes a month after brother Adam impressed at the Tour de France with a fourth-place finish.

Atapuma's BMC team helped him protect the leader's red jersey by staying with the hard pace set first by Orica BikeExchange early and Movistar late.

"We were attentive and got on their wheel," Atapuma said. "We had good legs today and defended the lead."

Atapuma kept his half-minute advantage over Valverde, Froome, Esteban Chaves and Quintana. Contador remained almost 2 minutes behind.

The seventh stage on Friday is a 158.5-kilometer (98-mile) ride over three category-three climbs from Maceda to Puebla de Sanabria.

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