ZARAGOZA, Spain (AFP) — German veteran Erik Zabel of the Milram team won the crash-marred 176.3km seventh stage of the Tour of Spain between Calahorra and here on Friday.
Zabel, 37, finished just ahead of Australian Allan Davis with the Italian Paolo Bettini taking third place.
Russian Vladimir Efimkin of the Caisse d'Epargne team remains overall race leader.
There was a major crash involving a number of riders in the final three kilometres of the race which divided the peloton but did not affect the overall standings.
The accident occurred where the road had been narrowed because of major building activity in Zaragoza which is hosting the international Expo 2008.
"We went from a very wide road to a very narrow one. It was dangerous," said Zabel after the race.
Zabel profited from the absence of top sprinters Alessandro Petacchi, his Milram team mate and Spaniard Oscar Freire, winner of three stages, who both hung back after the crash.
The win was Zabel's eight stage win in the Vuelta and the 209th of his 15-year professional career.
Zabel said the Vuelta was preparation for the world championships in Stuttgart in which he would compete despite admitting doping after German Cycling Federation president Rudolf Sscharping said he deserved a "second chance"
"I'm here to improve my physical condition for the world championships,"said Zabel.
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