Philippe Gilbert won his second stage of the Vuelta a Espana today with Alberto Contador maintaining the leader's jersey ahead of the final two days of competition.
Gilbert (BMC) powered along the uphill drag in La Lastrilla finishing ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha).
The Belgian will be able to take confidence from the result as he continues to prepare for the road world championships later this month, which is a major season objective for the 30-year-old.
"This is typical for a finish like this, you have to give everything you have," Gilbert said.
"There's a lot of lactate in the muscles and you just have to try and not sit down because if you sit down it's over. You have to pedal as fast as you can."
Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) has a 1 minute and 35 second advantage over Valverde and a 2-21 buffer on Joaquin Rodriguez ahead of tomorrow's penultimate stage that includes a summit finish.
Gilbert's fast finish came after a slow stage that saw Aitor Galdos Alonso (Caja Rural) and Jose Vicente Toribio Alcolea (Andalucia) comprise the main break of the day. The duo escaped at the beginning of the rolling 178.4km 19th stage from Penafiel but was inevitably caught within the final 30km.
There was a flurry of activity with 12km remaining as a small group - including point's leader Rodriguez (Katusha) - contested an intermediate sprint. The group dissolved back into the peloton before Egoitz Garcia (Cofidis) made a move with 4km remaining. John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), who was vying for his fifth stage win, soon followed as did Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Nicolas Roche (AG2R) and Matti Breschel (Rabobank).
Gilbert's teammate, former world champion Alessandro Ballan drove at the front of the peloton to bring the quartet back within the final kilometre before Gilbert shot to the front. Sky's Ben Swift, who finished second in yesterday's stage, tried to hold Gilbert's wheel in the run to the line but faded and settled for a top 10.
Vuelta a Espana 2012, Stage 19: Peñafiel - La Lastrilla, 178.4km
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing in 4-56-25
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
3. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha
4. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
5. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol at 3 secs
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank
7. Jan Bakelants (Bel) Radioshack-Nissan
8. Ben Swift (GBr) Sky
9. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
10. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at same time
General classification after stage 19
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank in 77-21-49
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1-35
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 2-12
4. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky at 9-48
5. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 11-29
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 12-00
7. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank at 12-58
8. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Sharp at 13-09
9. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi at 13-52
10. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 15-13
Philippe Gilbert takes his second 2012 stage win
Alberto Contador maintains overall lead
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Coverage index
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Reports
Stage one report: Movistar win team time trial
Stage two report: Degenkolb wins, Swift third
Stage three report: Valverde victorious after Contador attacksStage four report: Rodriguez takes over lead after Valverde crashesStage five report: Degenkolb wins again
Stage six report: Froome gains time on ContadorStage seven report: Degenkolb makes it three at Vuelta
Stage eight report: Valverde doubles his score in AndorraStage nine report: Gilbert pips Rodriguez in Barcelona
Stage 10 report: Degenkolb continues unbeaten sprint record
Stage 11: Rodriguez hangs onto lead as Kessiakoff wins time trial
Stage 12: Rodriguez wins stage 12 to extend Vuelta lead
Stage 13: Cummings returns to winner's circle in Spain
Stage 14: Rodriguez stakes claim with Vuelta mountain-top win
Stage 15: Rodriguez rules at Covadonga as Froome loses time
Stage 16: Rodriguez strengthens lead as Froome keeps fourth
Stage 17: Contador turns Vuelta upside down with stunning stage win
Stage 18: Bennati pips Swift to stage win
Stage 19: Gilbert claims win number two in Spain
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Photos
Stage one TTT gallery
Stage two gallery
Stage three gallery Stage four galleryStage five gallery
Stage six gallery
Stage seven gallery
Stage eight gallery
Stage nine gallery
Stage 10 gallery
Stage 11 gallery
Stage 12 gallery
Stage 13 gallery
Stage 14 gallery
Stage 15 gallery
Stage 16 gallery
Stage 17 gallery
Stage 18 gallery
Stage 19 gallery
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Latest news
Porte puts Olympics snub to the side ahead of Vuelta debut
ITV to show Vuelta highlights
Froome to lead Sky at Vuelta
Degenkolb just can't stop winning
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Start list
Vuelta a Espana 2012: Route info and analysis
Vuelta a Espana 2012 route revealed
Vuelta 2012 route leaves time triallists out in the cold
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