Czech Leopold Koenig celebrated his maiden tour of Spain victory after the Czech soloed across the line to win stage eight.
The 166.6 kilometre ride from Jerez de la Frontera to Alto Peñas Blancas presented the first uphill finish of this year’s edition.
The peloton had covered more than 30km before the break of the day formed.
A group of around 13 riders made their way out in front but with five kilometres to go the chasing bunch had swallowed them up.
Soon after Euskaltel climber Igor Anton attacked.
The Basque rider led up to the two kilometre mark at which point Koenig burst out of the chasing bunch to reel him in.
With 500 metres to the finish line high above the Costa del Sol the 25-year-old Czech overtook Anton.
Such was his pace he had created enough of an advantage to hold off a late charge by Katusha’s Dani Moreno, and King of the Mountains leader Nicolas Roche to hand his Pro Continental NetApp-Endura team their first grand tour success.
Roche – son of former Tour de France winner Stephen – moved into the overall race lead with a 17-second advantage over American Chris Horner and Spain’s Moreno.
Former race leader and pre-tour favourite Vincenzo Nibali of Italy struggled in the final kilometres and was forced to relinquish his hold on the red jersey.
He eventually finished 16th on the stage, 27 seconds down on Koenig and as a result is now fourth overall at 18 seconds.