Gritty Geniez climbs to Vuelta stage win

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Alexandre Geniez powered his way up a brutal final climb to win stage three of the Vuelta a Espana and Ruben Fernandez moved to the top of the general classification on a tough day for Alberto Contador.

FDJ rider Geniez went clear on a punishing last ascent of the Mirador de Ezaro, with an average gradient of 13.8 per cent and slopes up to 30 per cent, to claim a second Vuelta stage victory on Monday.

The exhausted Frenchman finished 21 seconds ahead of Spaniard Fernandez (Movistar) at the end of a 176.4-kilometre route from Marin, which also included a category three and category two climb.

Geniez, who last week announced that he will join AG2R La Mondiale next year, had gone up the road with Simon Pellaud (IAM Cycling) and Pieter Serry (Etixx - Quick Step) and produced one huge final push to add to the stage win he achieved in this race three years ago.

Fernandez also showed great staying power to finish second and take the red jersey from Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski.

Alejandro Valverde sits second in the GC after crossing the line behind his team-mate and compatriot Fernandez, while Sky's Chris Froome is just 11 seconds adrift of the new leader courtesy of fourth-placed finish.

Esteban Chaves (Orica - BikeExchange) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) are 17 seconds off the pace at this early stage of the race after ending the stage in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Contador has work to do on home soil, with the Tinkoff rider dropped on a hot day, finishing 54 seconds back from Geniez, who punched the air as he crossed the line with his shirt open.

Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) quit the race after struggled with sinus problems.