Vincenzo Nibali donned the leader’s red jersey at the Tour of Spain on Sunday following stage two of the final major stage race of the year.
The Italian pre-tour favourite came home in 16th place after a 176.8 kilometre trek to Alto Do Monte Da Groba – the first mountainous stage this edition.
The ride was animated by a day-long break by three men – Alex Rasmussen, Greg Henderson and Francisco Aramandia.
With the Peloton and especially Nibali’s Astana team initially unfazed the escapees established a lead of up to 13 minutes.
But when the leaders attacked the final climb of the day the main bunch were breathing down their necks.
Henderson was the first to go and soon after it was also over for Rasmussen and Aramandia as a group of some 40 riders took over at the front.
Ireland’s Nicolas Roche of the Saxo Bank Tinkoff team joined a small group who attacked inside the final few hundred metres and held off Spain’s Daniel Moreno and Italian Domenico Pozzovivo for the win.
Heading into stage three’s 172.5 kilometre ride from Vigo to Mirador de Lobeira, Nibali holds an eight second advantage over Roche whilst his closest overall title rival is Alejandro Valverde who is in eighth place at 27 seconds.