Italian fabio Aru enjoyed his second victory of this year’s Vuleta a Espana on Thursday after the Astana rider won stage 18.
The 173.5 km stage to Meis in the north west of the country was marked by a long three man breakaway, but the main bunch were never going to let it go all the way.
The end of the day’s ride featured two climbs of the short but steep Alto Monte Castrova, with the first climb whittling down the field and the second setting up a thrilling finale with a host of favourites.
Aru made his move first with Britain’s title contender Chris Froome joining him just before the summit.
Spanish trio Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquin Rodriguez struggled to keep pace.
The leading duo left their rivals in their wake and went on to battle it out in a two-man sprint for top honours.
Aru managed to power ahead in the closing metres beat Froome and to add stage 18 to his stage 11 triumph a week ago.
Froome took second while Valverde led Rodriguez and Contador over the line for third.
Froome leapfrogged Valverde into second in the overall standings and now sits one minute and 19 seconds behind two time champion and race leader Contador with three stages left.