Bradley Wiggins holds onto Vuelta lead after stage 14

Bradley Wiggins
Wiggins suffered a broken collarbone during the Tour de France

Britain's Bradley Wiggins has tightened his grip on the leader's red jersey in the Vuelta a Espana after a strong climbing display in stage 14.

Team Sky's three-time Olympic champion finished the stage joint-fifth, 45 seconds behind Estonia's Rein Taaramae after a punishing final climb.

Taaramae won the mountainous 175km route from Astorga by 25 seconds from Spain's Juan Jose Cobo.

Overall, Wiggins leads compatriot Chris Froome by seven seconds.

After the stage Wiggins said: "The race is ours to lose. I'm feeling good, I felt strong on the climbs, it still hurts of course but everybody else is hurting as well.

"We're another day closer now and tomorrow is another very hard stage. But we'll continue to fight all the way to the end and hopefully that'll be enough to win the red jersey."

Cobo's Geox team-mate and compatriot David de la Fuente finished the stage in third place.

The final climb saw major rivals of Wiggins, including Italy's reigning champion Vicenzo Nibali, lose time to drop down the overall standings.

Nibali saw Wiggins' advantage over him increase from four seconds to more than a minute after the Italian rider fell behind on the last of three mountain passes.

Dutchman Bauke Mollema of Rabobank - who hung on to the coat-tails of the Team Sky pair - moved up from sixth overall to third, still 36 seconds behind Wiggins, who is bidding to become the first Briton to win one of the three major races called the Grand Tours - the Vuelta, the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia.

Cobo was another big winner, the Spaniard closing his deficit to Wiggins by over 30 seconds to move up four places to fourth overall at 55 seconds. Dane Jakob Fuglsang of Leopard-Trek is fifth at 58 seconds.

Sunday's 15th stage is the third in a trilogy of mountain stages which have been designed to get steadily harder.

Considered the 'queen' stage of the race, it will lead the peloton over 144.2 km from Aviles to the summit of the Angliru, and carries a fearsome reputation.

Even the best climbers are reduced to racing it at walking pace, conditions which, in 2002, led Britain's David Millar to famously throw his bike down and quit the race a metre before the finish line in protest.

The race ends on 11 September in Madrid.

Results from the 14th stage of the Spanish Vuelta, a 175.8-kilometer (109.2-mile) mountain course from Astorga to La Farrapona in northern Spain:

1. Rein Taaramae, Estonia, Cofidis, 4 hours, 39 minutes, 1 seconds.

2. Juan Jose Cobo, Spain, Geox, 25 seconds behind.

3. David de la Fuente, Spain, Geox, :29.

4. Wouter Poels, Netherlands, Vacansoleil, :40.

5. Bradley Wiggins, Britain, Sky, :45.

6. Christopher Froome, Britain, Sky, same time.

7. Bauke Mollema, Netherlands, Rabobank, same time.

8. Denis Menchov, Russia, Geox, same time.

9. Mikel Nieve, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi :55.

10. Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Belgium, Omega Pharma Lotto, 1:00.

Overall Standings (After 14 of 21 stages):

1. Bradley Wiggins, Britain, Sky, 55 hours, 54 minutes, 45 seconds.

2. Christopher Froome, Britain, Sky, 7 seconds behind.

3. Bauke Mollema, Netherlands, Rabobank, :36.

4. Juan Jose Cobo, Spain, Geox, :55

5. Jakob Fuglsang, Denmark, Leopard Trek, :58.

6. Fredrik Kessiakoff, Sweden, Astana, 1:23.

7. Vicenzo Nibali, Italy, Liquigas-Cannondale, 1:25.

8. Maxime Monfort, Belgium, Leopard Trek, 1:37.

9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Belgium, Omega Pharma Lotto, 2:16.

10. Daniel Moreno, Spain, Katusha, 2:24.