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Valverde keeps lead as Farrar wins stage

  • Story Highlights
  • Spain's Alejandro Valverde keeps his Vuelta Espana lead by seven seconds
  • America's Tyler Farrar claims the 11th stage victory after mass sprint
  • The bikes hit the road again on Friday with the first mountain stage
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(CNN) -- Spain's Alejandro Valverde maintained his lead of the Vuelta Espana after America's Tyler Farrar proved the fastest finisher in a mass sprint to claim the 11th stage victory.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde keeps hold of the golden jersy with a seven second lead.

There were 49 riders who recorded the same time after completing the 200-kilometer ride which included a first category hill climb and marked the halfway point of the tour.

David Moncoutie of France, Spain's Amets Txurruka and Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland upped the pace to breakaway -- at one point opening an eight minute lead -- before being caught by the peleton before the finish.

Valverde -- who, despite his denial of any wrongdoing, is currently banned from riding in Italy for two years because of being implicated in the Operation Puerto doping scandal -- holds onto the golden jersey with a seven second lead over Australia's Cadel Evans.

Dutchman Robert Gesink is 36 seconds behind the front two going into Thursday's rest period.

The bikes hit the road again on Friday with the first mountain stage -- a 179-kilometer climb from the city of Almeria to Alto de Velefique, Andalucia.

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