Britain’s Simon Yates took a huge step towards securing overall victory at the Vuelta a España as he gained significant ground over main rival Alejandro Valverde of Spain as he finished second on the first mountain stage in Andorra.
Despite getting help from Movistar team-mate Nairo Quintana, Valverde lost 1min 12sec on the 2,025 metres-high Coll de la Rabassa on stage 19.
Having taken an additional six-second time bonus, Yates, riding for Mitchelton-Scott, now leads his Spanish rival by 1:38 with only tomorrow’s short but demanding mountain stage to Coll de la Gallina separating him from a winning finale in Madrid on Sunday (September 16).
Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ won the stage in 3hr 42min 05sec after being able to stay with Yates, who finished five seconds behind him.
Steven Kruijswijk of LottoNL-Jumbo was third at 13 seconds after he was distanced by the two in the final kilometre.
Thanks to his efforts, Kruijswijk moved up to third overall ahead of Enric Mas of Quick-Step Floors, 1:50 down on Yates.
"I'm very wary of tomorrow, about what could happen in one day," Yates said, according to BBC Sport.
"So I'll try to stay focused now and of course enjoy the day, but really it's not over until it's over.
"The team did a fantastic job again."