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Vuelta a Espana: Stage 17 highlights - Video

Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport) wins stage 17 at the Vuelta a Espana

Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport) wins stage 17 at the Vuelta a Espana (Image credit: Michael Aisner)

Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blue Sport) made history by taking his Irish team's first Grand Tour stage win Wednesday at the Vuelta a Espana, surviving with aplomb on the steep ascent of Los Machucos and holding off a spirited charge from Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo).

The soon-to-be retired Spaniard came within 30 seconds of overhauling the Austrian, but Contador faded as the severity of the climb lessened, and Denifl was able to power on to take the win.

Behind, race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) appeared to struggle with the gradient, but the overall leader managed to limit his losses to Contador and, more importantly, second-placed Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).