Quintana (Movistar) was one of the major animators of the stage, following Fabio Aru's (Astana) race-wining attack on the penultimate climb, then attacking 19km from the stage finish in an attempt to elevate himself to the podium.
However, Rafal Majka proved to be the better of the pair, coming in two seconds ahead of Quintana to claim third place in the Vuelta. Quintana was awarded with the sportmanship award for his efforts.
“I feel happy," said Quintana. "As I asaid a few days ago, I could be sitting now at home in front of the TV after all the suffering I had to go through during the Andorra stage and the days after that. Ending the race this way is really rewarding.
"I had to save energy yesterday to give everything today, and we sort of succeeded - we gave all we had. I couldn't leave this race again without making it to the end; I gave all that was left into my body and I'm really happy with this fourth place.”
Orica-GREENEDGE's Esteban Chaves also put in a strong ride to leapfrog former red jersey Tom Dumoulin and take fifth overall.
“Awesome,” Chaves said. “After 20 stages I can stay with the group of favourites. Two years ago the team put their faith in me, and this is the reward.
“The goal for this Vuelta was top ten and we are in the top five, plus three stages and six days in the red jersey," he added. "This is an amazing Vuelta for Orica-GREENEDGE.”
Neil Stephens applauded Chaves' tactical savvy during the stage.
“Esteban got to the top of the third climb and realised that Valverde was in trouble so he stayed with the favourites. When he noticed Dumoulin was fading also, he saw the major move and he had to get across to it.”
“It wasn’t until the last 15km that we realised we could maybe pass Dumoulin on the general classification and that’s when we really collaborated with Astana.”