Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) did enough to secure overall victory in the Ruta del Sol in the stage five time trial, finishing 14 seconds adrift of stage winner David De La Cruz (Team Sky).
The Belgian began the day as overall leader and had a number of high calibre riders breathing down his neck, with Mikel Landa (Movistar) and Wout Poels (Team Sky) at seven and 11 seconds respectively in second and third place.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
But neither, nor those slightly further adrift, were able to produce a performance to unseat Wellens, with Poels beating him by two seconds to move up to second overall and Landa losing a heap of time to drop to 42 seconds and sixth place overall.
De La Cruz, who wasn’t in overall contention, capped off a great week for Team Sky – who had already taken a stage win through Poels – with his impressive time of 17-11 over the 14.2km course.
Team Sky had held the best time the majority of the stage, with Dylan Van Baarle setting an early benchmark at 17-23, before De La Cruz took his turn and moved into the top of the standings.
All eyes were then on Chris Froome, who dropped out of overall contention in Saturday’s tough uphill finish and had promised to ’empty the tank’ in the final day time trial where he was favourite for stage victory.
It wasn’t to be for the four-time Tour winner though, who looked well off his best against the clock with a time of 17-38. That time saw him finish out of the top-10 on the stage but hold on to finish 10th in the overall standings.
Costa Rica’s Andrey Amador came closest to knocking Spaniard De La Cruz off top spot, missing out by six seconds, while his Movistar team-mate Marc Soler put in an impressive ride to clock 17.20 and move up to third overall.
Wellens began his run off the ramp strongly and never looked in too much danger of losing his overall title. However an impressive performance from Poels, who set a time of 17.22, meant Wellens needed to finish with 17.33 to claim victory.
In the end the 26-year-old was able to cross the line with eight seconds to spare, sealing his first GC victory of 2018.
Ruta del Sol 2018, stage five: Barbate – Barbate (14.2km ITT)
1 David De La Cruz (Esp) Team Sky, in 17-11
2 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team, at 6s
3 Stef Clement (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 7s
4 Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 8s
5 Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar Team, at 9s
6 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 11s
7 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky, at 12s
8 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 14s
9 Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice, at 24s
10 Luis León Sanchez (Esp) Astana Pro Team, st
Final overall classification
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal, in 17-41-50
2 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 8s
3 Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar Team, at 27s
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 30s
5 Luis León Sanchez (Esp) Astana Pro Team, st
6 Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar Team, at 42s
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1-19
8 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, at 1-41
9 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team, at 1-51
10 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 1-57.