Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took his second stage win of this year’s Vuelta a Espana, making the most of an uphill finish to scythe past Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the closing metres. The time bonus brought him to 37s from Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) who remains in the overall race lead.
A break of three riders – Tiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin), Jorge Cubero (Burgos-BH) and Héctor Sáez (Euskadi-Murias) – set off at the very start of the 195km stage to Caminito del Rey.
With 100km to go, they had a ten-minute advantage but they were eventually caught with just 6km to go.
The finish was uphill and while not steep or long enough to rule out any of the sprinters, it was difficult enough to bring others into contention. A hairpin with 800m to go complicated matters further.
As the riders surged for the line, Sagan seemed likely to take the win, but Valverde came past him for the 11th Vuelta stage victory his career.
“They told me it would be a good finish for me," he said afterwards. "The idea was not to lose time and then see what I can do with this.
"The team put me in a perfect position, it was uphill for the last 500 metres and that always favours me. I took Sagan’s wheel and I wanted to go past him on the right side but I was afraid I would get boxed in and Nizzolo was coming on the left… I doubted but I found the opening.
"It’s very motivating to beat Peter in such a finale. It gives me a lot of confidence. I’m feeling good and I want to make the most of my condition, day after day. From tomorrow, we’ll see what can happen for me and Nairo (Quintana). I’m feeling good, without any pressure.”