Puerto de Ancares played witness to a real show of strength from overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez who took his third stage win of La Vuelta a España and kept the challenge of Alberto Contador firmly in its place.
It was the same result as Stage 12 on El Mirador, Rodriguez leading Contador over the line, with Movistar's Alejandro Valverde in third. What was different, however was the manner of the performance which was complimented by a impressive team showing.
Angel Losada, the last man from the day's break kept himself at the front of the race for as long as humanly possible, throwing the responsibility of the chase to Contador's Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team.
The blue and canary yellow team obliged setting an impressive tempo over the day's final two category 1 climbs.
All the while Katusha, and Rodriguez kept plenty in reserve, and were watchful as they allowed Saxo to begin the slow but steady decimation of the main field.
Contador looked calm and collected heading into the final 10 kilometres, with the Puerto de Ancares, 9.5 kilometres at an average gradient of 8.1 per cent set to be the Spaniard's launch pad for his assault on Rodriguez's hold of the leader's red jersey.
Robert Gesink was one of the first major casualties of the infernal pace at the front, slipping away from the peloton, and conceding his fifth place on GC.
Igor Anton followed shortly after, as the pace of Saxo on the front really began to string things out. A now 20-strong elite front group were breathing deep heading into the last four kilometres.
Contador made his first skirmish as the Ancares ramped back up and Valverde was the first to follow. Dani Moreno kept calm and brought Rodriguez back into contention by slowly upping the pace behind the duo.
Team Sky's Chris Froome was beginning to struggle as Moreno and Rodriguez made the juncture, while Contador prepared himself for a bigger final move.
El Pistolero fired again shortly after, but this attack was the all-or-nothing type designed to explode his rivals. He distanced Valverde and Rodriguez quickly, while Froome was in real difficulty unable to refind his rhythm. Moreno made one last effort for his team leader, before Rodriguez went on alone in search of Contador, and in defense of the overall.
It was a tactically spot on performance from Rodriguez, with the timing of the move allowing him to bring back Contador just as the latter crossed under the red kite.
The sprint was but a foregone conclusion. Contador had played all his cards and had was riding on fumes, whereas Rodriguez, like yesterday had held enough in the tank to mount his signature uphill sprint and take the win.
Valverde, Moreno and Froome shuffled over individually within 40 seconds of the Spaniard. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) had one of the rides of the day in sixth.
Rodriguez now leads Contador by 22 seconds, Froome third albeit on equal time to Valverde at one minute 41 seconds.
Australia's Simon Clarke did enough to wrench control of the mountains classification from Valverde after a spirited and tenacious ride in the day's break. The Orica-GreenEDGE rider is 11 points clear of the Spaniard, but there are of course more mountains to come.
Stage 14: 149.2km, Palas de Rei to Puerto de Ancares
1 Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) Katusha 4hr 20min 28sec
2 Alberto Contador (ESP) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:00:05
3 Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar 0:00:13
4 Daniel Moreno (ESP) Katusha 0:00:35
5 Christopher Froome (GBR) Sky 0:00:38
6 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:44
7 Igor Anton (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:56
8 Laurens Ten Dam (NED) Rabobank 0:01:04
9 Tomasz Marczynski (POL) Vacansoleil-DCM 0:01:13
10 Nicolas Roche (IRL) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:17
1 Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) Katusha 53hr 06min 33sec
2 Alberto Contador (ESP) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:00:22
3 Christopher Froome (GBR) Sky 0:01:41
4 Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar
5 Daniel Moreno (ESP) Katusha 0:04:16
6 Robert Gesink (NED) Rabobank 0:05:07
7 Nicolas Roche (IRL) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:51
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:06:13
9 Laurens Ten Dam (NED) Rabobank 0:06:34
10 Igor Anton (ESP) Euskaltel Euskadi 0:07:16