The eighth stage of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana saw the favourites slug it out once again after a blistering start to the stage.
A savage early pace and a brutally steep finish made this one of the hardest days of the race so far for the riders, who will now look forward to flat lands until Wednesday’s individual time trial.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) again set the pace on the final climb, dropping all but his three closest rivals on the climb to the finish, but when Contador responded he was unable to follow.
The Spanish trio of Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, and Alberto Contador were left to contest the win, with the Movistar rider taking his second stage win of the race.
Froome will be counting the moments until Wednesday’s race against the clock.
Froome set the pace on the lower slopes of the final climb, but was unable to distance his closest rivals
The three Spaniards contested the finish with victory going to Valverde
Contador was less concerned with the stage result than by the gap he had established over Chris Froome
Valverde and Rodriguez share views as Valverde makes his way to the podium
To the victor, the spoils: Valverde celebrates his second victory of this year’s Vuelta