Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won stage 13 of the Vuelta a España to the summit of Los Machucos, as his compatriot Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) extended his lead in the red jersey.
The Slovenians put 27 seconds into Movistar pair Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana and over a minute into Miguel Ángel López (Astana) after attacking in the final 3km on the steep slopes of the final climb.
Pogačar and Roglič worked together to get away from the other contenders, with the stage win going uncontested as Pogačar celebrated across the line to take his second stage win of the race. The 20-year-old also won the stage nine summit finish in Slovenia.
Race leader Roglič now sits 2-25 over Alejandro Valverde in second with Pogačar now up to third overall at 3-18. López slips to fourth at 3-18.
How it happened
The Vuelta a España peloton faced a gruelling day of 166.4km with seven classified climbs. Not only that, the stage finished at the summit of the brutally steep climb of Los Machucos.
A breakaway would likely try and get away to contest the stage, but it took some time with escape finally going on the Alto de la Escrita with around 40km ridden.
Wout Poels (Team Ineos) the main instigator, and his move eventually saw a group of more than 30 go clear over the climb. Included in the group were the likes of yesterday’s stage winner Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), as well as Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal).
Heading into the final 70km the break had almost seven minutes on the bunch controlled by Jumbo-Visma, with numerous small groups attempting to chip off the front and away from the large breakaway.
Despite a few riders dropping away, by 60km the break was more or less together, with gap soaring to over eight minutes.
The next big attack at the front of the race came from Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias) on the descent of the Puerto de Alisas.
While he was initially pursued, he was able to power away to an advantage of over two minutes on the chase.
As the breakaway group chasing him began to whittle down to around 18 riders, Astana took up the work from Jumbo-Visma in the peloton, and suddenly the advantage dropped and was down to just five minutes with 14km to go.
Saez, who still had two minutes on his former breakaway companions at this point, faced a tough challenge to hold on with the brutal summit finish to Los Machucos to come.
Such was the pace set by Astana, the gap to the break chasing Saez continued to drop to under three minutes at the foot of Los Machucos, with the leader still over a minute in front. It increasingly looked as though the stage would be decided by those riders in the general classification fight.
Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), who had been toiling for some time between Saez and the breakaway group, eventually bridged to the leader with 6.5km to go, and left Saez for dead almost immediately as he pushed on up the steep opening slopes.
The Frenchman was being chased by four riders including Sergio Higuita (EF Education First), Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Ruben Guerreiro (Katusha-Alpecin) with around 40 seconds in hand.
Latour was then able to push on and bridge across to his compatriot on the flatter section of the climb with 4.5km to go, immediately leaving Armirail behind.
Back in the peloton, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was one of the first to try his luck off the front with just under 6km to go, gaining a gap of around 10 seconds as López, Pogačar, Valverde and race leader Roglič stayed together.
Quintana was eventually brought back to that group with 3.5km to go, with Latour staying in the lead with 33 seconds up the road.
An acceleration by Roglič and Pogačar saw López and Quintana immediately dropped, with Valverde just hanging in there.
The two Slovenians kept their pace, eventually dropping Valverde on the 25 per cent slopes in the final 3km.
Roglič and Pogačar were now closing in on Latour, eventually catching him with 1.5km to go and leaving him behind as Valverde and Quintana attempted to fight back.
There was nothing they could do to stop them though as they continued to power up the climb. As the reached the final flat and downhill stretch to the line, it was clear Roglič was going to allow Pogačar to take the victory, adding a second stage win in his debut Grand Tour.
The Vuelta a España continues on Saturday with a 188km route from San Vicente de la Barquer to Oviedo that could suit the sprinters.
Vuelta a España 2019, stage 13: Bilbao to Los Machucos. Monumento Vaca Pasiega (166.4km)
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 4-28-26
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
3. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 27s
4. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Colombia
6. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, all at same time
7. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 1-01
8. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, 1-08
9. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, all at same time
General classification after stage 13
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 49-20-28
2. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 2-25
3. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-01
4. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 3-18
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 3-33
6. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6-15
7. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, at 7-18
8. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto-Soudal, at 7-33
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 7-39
10. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida, 9-58