Pardilla attacked out of a rapidly diminishing peloton with four kilometres remaining to go clear solo with Contador sitting happily in the main group as Movistar set the pace up the very hard climb. Lying 31 seconds down on overnight leader Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep), Pardilla’s gap rose quickly to nearly a minute, moving him into the virtual leader’s jersey on the road.
With the gap looking more and more likely to stick and Pardilla moving to secure a massive win, Ben Hermans, another rider in the mix for the general classification, attacked in the final two kilometres where the gradient rose to a leg-sapping 20 per cent.
Contador followed the move, then counterattacked over the top of the Belgian rider and managed to pull enough time on both Pardilla and Hermans in the final metres to secure the most slender of victories.
Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) also produced a strong ride on the final climb, finishing fourth on the day and fourth overall, four seconds adrift.
Yates had been back in racing for a while since his adverse analytical finding for use of a theurapeutic banned substance without the proper filing of paperwork. He showed that he’s more than ready to show his wares at the Vuelta a Espana if given the opportunity.