Joaquim Rodriguez further extended his lead over Chris Froome at the top of the Vuelta a Espana general classification after finishing second behind Philippe Gilbert on stage nine today.

Belgian Gilbert (BMC) earned his first victory of 2012 after beating Rodriguez in a sprint finish at the end of the 196.30-kilometre ride from Andorra to Barcelona after the pair had broken clear on the final climb of Montjuic.

Roche finished 32nd in the stage (12 seconds behind), but remains in seventh place in the general classification.

Barcelona-born Rodriguez may have missed out on the stage win in his home town but the Katusha rider can take satisfaction from the fact he now boasts a 53-second lead over nearest challenger Froome overall.

Froome slipped 33 seconds behind the Spaniard yesterday and he lost more ground today after finishing in the chasing pack.

In third place on stage nine, seven seconds behind the leading pair, was Italian Paolo Tiralongo.

Two seconds further behind came the quartet of Tomasz Marczynski, Daniele Bennati, Alejandro Valverde and Nacer Bouhanni. The main group were three seconds further back.

Overall, Alberto Contador remains in third spot, seven seconds behind Froome and now a minute behind Rodriguez, with another Spaniard Valverde in fourth place, one minute and seven seconds off the red jersey.

Monday is the first rest day of the 2012 Vuelta before the race resumes on Tuesday with the 166km-stage 10 from Ponteareas and Sanxenxo.