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Denis Menchov wins ninth stage of Tour of Spain and takes overall lead
Denis Menchov of Russia won the ninth stage of the Tour of Spain, a 48-kilometre time trial at Lloret de Mar on Sunday in one hour 54 seconds and took the overall race lead.

The trial involved a climb to the top of Alto de Tossa, a 260-metre peak located 21.4 kilometres from the start.

Menchov, the 27-year-old Rabobank hill climber-turned time trial specialist claimed the overall lead from defending champion Roberto Heras, who finished the stage in fifth place.

Menchov takes the yellow leader's jersey just before the race is due to turn to the Pyrenees Mountains.

"I have worked to improve against the clock and I have made progress," Menchov said. "After the Tour (de France) I trained hard and the results are coming now. The Tour really begins tomorrow and I will try and resist."

But Menchov maintained his respect for his Spanish rival, Heras. "I always knew he had class," the Russian said.

Heras won the Vuelta in 2000, 2003 and 2004.

The 21-stage Tour of Spain ends on Sept. 18 with the riders racing up the central Paseo de la Castellana boulevard in Madrid.

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