Oscar Rodriguez (Euskadi-Murias) was the unexpected winner of the Vuelta a España stage 13, take victory ahead of WorldTour riders Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) on the summit finish to Alto La Camperona.
The Spaniard had been part of the day’s huge breakaway group, and was able to bridge across to Majka and Teuns who had attacked on the steep final climb. As he reached them, he barely hesitated as he continued his pace and immediately gapped the pair in the final kilometre.
Majka continued to pursue him, but there was nothing he could do to stop Rodriguez holding on to take a monumental victory for his Euskadi-Murias team who will mark this as a successful Vuelta whatever happens from here.
In the GC fight, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) were able to gap their rivals in the final kilometre, with the Colombian distancing the Briton in the final 100m to finish with a six second advantage.
Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) holds on to the overall lead despite being dropped on the climb, but his gap is down to 1-42 over Simon Yates.
How it happened
Stage 13 of the 2018 Vuelta would take the riders to another summit finish, with the fierce climb of Alto La Camperona to end the 174.8km stage.
A huge 32-man group got away early on the stage, including some big name riders like Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Sergio Henao (Team Sky) as well as king of the mountains Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) and two-time stage winner Ben King (Dimension Data).
They established a maximum gap of just over six minutes, and carried just over four minutes on the approach to the final climb of La Camperona, which goes on for over 8km and pitches up to around 20 per cent towards the top.
De Gendt was one of the riders to try and push on the pace towards the climb and split the group, with Cofidis leading the peloton in service of race leader Jesus Herrada along with Movistar.
On to the climb, Bora drove the pace on the front of the break with Marcus Burghardt and Jay McCarthy, putting a lot of riders in trouble with still over three minutes on the peloton.
The first move of intent came from Zakarin with 3.3km, but he was quickly tracked by Majka and the rest of the group.
As the road rose steeper in the final 2.5km, it was Majka who then got away with Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) able to bridge across first, before losing contact with the Pole on the 15 per cent gradients.
Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) was the next rider to get across to Majka, reaching him on the horrific 20 per cent sections of the climb. Oscar Rodriguez (Euskadi-Murias) then made it across with just over a kilometre to go with the gradient remaining steep, and he quickly went ahead of Teuns and Majka.
Such was his speed, there was nothing either of them could do to stop the Pro Continental rider getting away and heading towards victory on the line and take a huge victory for his team.
Meanwhile behind, Astana drove the pace on the peloton early on the climb as they looked to setup Miguel Angel Lopez for an attack, before Mitchelton-Scott took control heading on to the steeper sections.
Lopez then suffered an untimely mechanical and was dropped out of the main group but fought to get back.
As attrition set in, it was Quintana and Yates who got away in the final kilometre with their rivals lagging behind at around 12 seconds.
Quintana then attacked with around 100m to go to gap Yates and hold him off by six seconds on the line. Quick-Step’s Enric Mas came in just three seconds after Yates, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) then coming in with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) eight seconds after, with Lopez just being. A larger group including Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) and Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) then reached the finish another eight seconds back.
The Vuelta head to another summit finish on Saturday, with a 171km stage to Les Praeres.
Vuelta a España 2018, stage 13: Candás. Carreño to Valle de Sabero. La Camperona (174.8km)
1 Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Esp) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias, in 4-17-05
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 19s
3 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team, at 30s
4 Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 38s
5 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 43s
6 Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data, at 1-00
7 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1-12
8 Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-21
9 Edward Ravasi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-25
10 Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data, at 1-27
Overall classification after stage 13
1 Jesus Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, in 54-50-19
2 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-42
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 1-50
4 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-54
5 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team, at 2-23
6 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapa, at 2-33
7 Ion Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 2-35
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 2-40
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 2-44
10 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-47