Team Sky's Chris Froome has moved second overall in the 69th edition of the Vuelta a Espana after following an attack 3km out from Astana's Fabio Aru, who won Stage 18 of the race on the summit finish at Monte Castrove en Meis.
Tinkoff-Saxo's Alberto Contador retains the race lead, 1 minute 19 seconds ahead of Froome, who leapfrogs Movistar's Alejandro Valverde following the 157km stage from A Estrada.
Froome finished 1 second behind Aru, who was third overall at May's Giro d'Italia, but crucially a dozen seconds ahead of the chasing trio of Contador, Valverde, and Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez.
The Team Sky man had started the day 3 seconds behind Valverde on the general classification, but now has a 13 second cushion on him in the overall standings.
The race concludes with a short time trial in Santiago de Compostela on Sunday, while tomorrow's stage gives a final chance to the stronger sprinters.
That means that the last chance for a big change in the overall classification will come on Saturday, when the race tackles a summit climb at Puerto de Ancares.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.