Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida) soloed to victory after attacking the breakaway on stage 13 of the Vuelta a Espana.
The Portuguese time trial champion put his skills against the clock to good use to eke out a minutes’ lead over the 23 other escapees and bowed as he crossed the finish line to secure victory.
Fabio Aru (Astana) retains the red jersey, meanwhile, finishing in the peloton on what was little more than a transition stage for the GC men with more mountains awaiting.
On a day well-suited to the breakaway, a high-speed start ensured it was actually all together after 40km of racing.
Finally a group went clear on the Collado de Osaja, with Oliveira and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) among the instigators, and the break eventually grew to 24 in number with 15 teams represented.
Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff-Saxo), Alessandro de Marchi (BMC Racing), Team Sky duo Sergio Henao and Nicolas Roche and Britain’s Steven Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) were all among there, while Romain Sicard (Europcar) and Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) were the biggest threats overall.
Chavanel and Oliveira were the first to attack from the group, however, before they were brought back and Poljanski tried his luck.
Again the move was shut down, but with a healthy lead over the peloton, the attacks kept coming – the group briefly fracturing on the Alto de Moncayo.
Oliveira attacked with 27km to go, however, and the move appeared to stun the breakaway – the Portuguese time trial champion quickly opening up a lead which approached a minute.
With his DS banging the car door Marc Madiot-style in encouragement, Oliveira ploughed on while Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep), in the break, failed to get any support for the chase.
Instead the Dutch champion worked with Europcar to boost Sicard and Brambilla’s overall standing – both teams knowing the top-ten loomed if they maintained their advantage of more than four minutes over the bunch.
Back in the bunch, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), suffering with illness, had called for the medical car and was forced to chase back but the real focus of the day was the break.
And from there Oliveira pressed on alone up the road, his advantage never wavering as the remaining escapees appeared resigned to their fate.
The Portuguese ace bowed as he crossed the finishing line and was mobbed by team officials as he celebrated his solo victory.
Further back, Sicard and Brambilla’s efforts were not entirely wasted, the two climbing into the top ten overall at the expense of Quintana and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka).
The peloton was more than four minutes back in the end, but that was never sufficient to threaten Aru’s overall lead as the Italian prepares for tougher tasks ahead.
Vuelta a Espana 2015: stage 13 – result
1) Nelson Oliveira (POR) – Lampre-Merida – 4.14.01hrs
2) Julien Simon (FRA) – Cofidis +1.00
3) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Team Sky – ST
4) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) – IAM Cycling
5) Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) – Movistar
6) Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
7) Kevin Reza (FRA) – FDJ
8) Mikael Cherel (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
9) Cameron Meyer (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
10) Maxime Monfort (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
1) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana – 51.33.19hrs
2) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +27”
3) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin +30”
4) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.28
5) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE +1.29
6) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +1.52
7) Daniel Moreno (ESP) – Katusha +1.54
8) Mikel Nieve (ESP) – Team Sky +1.58
9) Gianluca Brambilla (ITA) – Etixx-QuickStep +2.51
10) Romain Sicard (FRA) – Europcar – ST