Heras leads Spanish Vuelta as Quesada wins stage

Updated: September 14, 2005, 1:38 PM ET
Associated press

LA GRANJA DE SAN ILDEFONSO, Spain -- Defending champion Robert Heras retained the overall lead in the Spanish Vuelta on Wednesday, and Carlos Garcia Quesada won the 17th stage in a mountain route outside Madrid.

Garcia Quesada, who rides for Comunitat Valenciana, won the stage in 3 hours, 51 minutes. Francisco Mancebo of Illes Balears was second, 46 seconds behind, followed by Phonak rider Santos Gonzalez.

Heras, a three-time Vuelta champion riding for Liberty Seguros, retained the yellow jersey but saw his overall lead reduced by more than a minute. The Spaniard finished ninth, 1:40 behind the winner.

Garcia Quesada pushed forward in the Navacerrada mountain village outside Spain's capital to win a fast-paced leg. The route covered 100 miles from El Espinar to La Granja de San Ildefonso.

"I was thinking more about this stage than the overall standings," Garci Quesada said. "I finished fifth last year and I was disappointed. I prefer a stage win to finishing fifth and this was one of the legs I had focused on."

The 21-stage race ends Sunday in Madrid.