Team Sky has bagged a stage of the Vuelta a Espana after three near misses.
Vasil Kiryienka claimed his first victory for Dave Brailsford’s men by riding the final 45km of the gruelling and climb-laden eighteenth stage alone.
The Belarussian, better known as a domestique, gained the British team’s first win after Edvald Boasson Hagen had been pipped on the line for the second time this Vuelta on the previous stage. Rigoberto Uran had missed out by a similar margin on the stage before that.
Kiryienka shed his 15 breakaway companions for an impressive solo victory at the first category summit of the Peña Cabarga.
Kiryienka said: “It’s a perfect result for the team because we’ve been working so hard to get that elusive win in this last week or so.
“Our morale has always stayed high but this will have boosted the mood even further.
“We’ve come close in the sprints, in the mountains, and now we’ve won from a breakaway, so we’re all really happy.”
Vincenzo Niabli (Astana) remains in the red jersey of race leader, but his advantage at the top of the general classification has been reduced to just three seconds after another day of attacks from second-placed Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard).
Third-placed Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) also gained time on the Italian, and with two more mountainous stages ahead before Sunday’s flat final run to Madrid, the outcome of this 58th edition of La Vuelta is far from certain.
Tomorrow’s 181km stage from San Vicente Barquera ends at the summit of the Monte Naranco in the Asturian mountains.
Vuelta a Espana 2013: stage 18 – result
1) Vasil Kiryienka (BEL) – Team Sky – 4.46.48
2) Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN) – Saxo-Tinkoff +28″
3) Adam Hansen (AUS) – Lotto-Belisol +1.18
4) Martin Kohler (SUI) – BMC Racing +1.34
5) Egoi Martinez (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +1.42
6) Chris Horner (USA) – Radioshack-Leopard +1.53
7) Amets Txurruka (ESP) – Caja Rural +2.02
8) Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +2.13
9) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar – ST
10) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana +2.18
1) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Astana +73.39.35
2) Chris Horner (USA) – Radioshack-Leopard +3″
3) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +1.09
4) Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +2.24
5) Nicolas Roche (IRE) – Saxo-Tinkoff +3.43
6) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +5.44
7) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ – 6.14
8) Leopold Konig (POL) – NetApp-Endura +6.14
9) Samuel Sanchez (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +7.5110) Tanel Kangert (EST) – Astana +11.10