Alberto Contador put himself in prime position to celebrate a third career Vuelta a Espana victory after winning stage 16 to extend his overall lead.
Although an on-bike fistfight between Italian Gianluca Brambilla and Russian Ivan Rovny marred the day’s ride with the pair being removed from the race and disqualified the biggest fight of all took place at the front of the peloton.
The 160.5km trek to La Farrapona Lago de Somiedo in the north of the country was dubbed the queen stage featuring five climbs – four of them category one.
The most thrilling break of the day happened with five kilometres to the line when title contenders Alberto Contador and Chris Froome attacked out of a leading group.
In the final kilometer Contador rode away from the Briton in a great show of power and managed to keep his pace to cross over for the stage win.
It was a stunning effort which saw the Spaniard take one step closer to a third Tour of Spain title.
Contador enjoyed his first win this edition 15 seconds ahead of Froome with Italian Alessandro De Marchi of the Cannondale team, who had held the lead up most of the final climb, taking third at 50 seconds.
Overall Contador leads compatriot Alejandro Valverde, who crossed the line fourth, by one minute and 36 seconds, with Froome third at three seconds further adrift.