Alejandro Valverde regained control of the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday after the Spaniard won the first summit finish of this year’s race on stage six.
Lotto-Belisol’s Pim Ligthart and Caja Rural’s mountains leader Luis Mas Bonet animated the day’s ride which was a 167.7km trek to La Zubia in the province of Granada.
It was a break that tested the peloton and lasted up to the final three kilometres and the final ascent of the day.
With the break swallowed up the main teams readied themselves for the final dash up the line.
It turned out to be a thrilling finale to the stage with all the title contenders in the mix for the day’s honours.
Katusha’s Joaquim Rodríguez attacked first but Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Valverde all responded quickly.
It was Movistar’s Valverde however who timed his sprint to perfection to edge out his rivals for the win.
Team Sky’s Froome took second and Contador of the Tinkoff-Saxo team celebrated third.
Three days after conceding the race lead Valverde’s victory put him back in the leader’s red jersey 15 seconds clear of Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana of Colombia.