Spaniard Daniel Moreno recorded a solo victory in the Tour of Spain on Tuesday at Sierra Nevada's mountain top finish while France's Sylvain Chavanel took the overall lead.
On a day of mixed fortunes for the host nation, local overall favourite Igor Anton cracked halfway up the 23 kms final climb and lost 87 seconds on the other contenders.
Katusha rider Moreno had no such problems on another day of intense heat, blasting away from Denmark's Chris Sorensen with 200 metres to go for the first Grand Tour stage win and 10th victory of his career. Ireland's Dan Martin was third.
Moreno told reporters he had spoken to team mate and leader Joaquin Rodriguez who told him to take his chances.
"When we got to the last kilometre and I looked back and saw how fast the rest of the favourites were coming up, then I thought we wouldn't make it," Moreno said.
"But I hung on and hung on and I knew if it came down to a two-way fight against Sorensen, I'd win."
Chavanel said taking the Tour of Spain lead on such a gruelling day confirmed he had bounced back from a difficult Tour de France.
"I'm very motivated for this race and the last part of the season," said Chavanel, who suffered a painful shoulder injury in the first week of the Tour de France.
"I could only get second in yesterday's stage, but I knew if I held on at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada climb, where it was steepest, I'd have a chance today to lead.
"I led this race in 2008 for a day, too, and I'm as determined now as I was then to defend it as hard as I can."
After the race's first major mountain top finish, Chavanel leads by 43 seconds over Moreno while Dane Jakob Fuglsang is third at 49 seconds.
Briton Mark Cavendish abandoned the race.
"We don't know what was wrong him, he's just totally out of energy, no power at all" Cavendish's sports director Jens Zemke told Reuters. "He told me he was so tired he felt like he could fall asleep the minute he got into the team car."
The race finishes in Madrid on Sept. 11.
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