Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin took yet another step towards his first Grand Tour title after extending his lead in the Vuelta following stage 19.
Dumoulin and his closest title rival Italian Fabio Aru got caught up in a crash after 72 km of the day’s ride to Avila. Aru, however, was hit the hardest crashing to the tarmac.
Shaken but relatively unscathed Aru was back in the saddle soon enough and back in the thick of things.
The day’s ride featured only two ranked climbs along the 185 km test but included a steep cobbled climb into the walled city at the finish line.
With 40 kilometres to go Frenchman Alexis Gougeard of the AG2R team put his time trialing skills to work.
Having been part of a large early break he closed the gap on solo leader Tiago Machado of the Katusha team.
As the Portuguese rider faded Gougeard picked up the pace and stayed away to cross over first for the biggest win of his two year pro tour career.
Dumoulin meanwhile crossed over three seconds clear of Aru to extend his lead to six seconds with two stages left.