Ballan wins Vuelta seventh stage to capture overall lead
( dpa ) - Italian rider Alessandro Ballan won the seventh stage of cycling's Tour of Spain Saturday to take the gold jersey as overall leader.
The Lampre team rider finished the 223.2-kilometre leg from Barbastro to the principality of Andorra in the Pyrenees in 6 hours 15 minutes 51 seconds.
Ezequil Mosquera of Spain (Xacabeo Galicia) was 2 minutes 42 seconds behind and compatriot Alberto Contador (Astana) a further three seconds back.
It was the first difficult climb of the Vuelta with first, second and third-category mountain climbs.
Ballan was in a group of five riders who built up a lead of some 11 minutes after breaking from the main field 18 minutes after the start.
The Italian was then able to attack 14 kilometres from the end to ride to a commanding victory.
He leads overall, one minute ahead of US rider Levi Leipheimer of the Astana team, while previous leader Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) of France slips back to third, a further 21 seconds in arrears.
Sunday's eighth stage of the Vuelta is a 151-kilometre stretch from Andorra to Pla de Beret.