Now fourth overall, the Colombian is only 47 seconds in debt to race leader Simon Yates and 22 seconds behind compatriot Nairo Quintana.
The young Astana rider, who finished third overall at the 2018 Giro, said he was satisfied with how he's tracking just ahead of the Vuelta's final week.
“I’d be happier if I had taken the victory, because it was a big opportunity," he said. "But I’m also happy with what I achieved because I was in the mix with the favourites. It was difficult because in the end it was hard to control Alejandro (Valverde) and Nairo (Quintana).
"There’s a lot of battle and a lot of mountain still ahead. Tomorrow is a climb that suits me better: a longer climb, with a more regular and less steep gradient. And it’s long. So I hope I’ll be at the front.”
Quintana too pointed to tomorrow's stage in preference to the preceding two.
"(Yates) just was a bit stronger than us in this specific case, in a very particular stage with difficult descents, splits, accelerations – and an explosive final climb which might not be the best for me.
"We’ll see how things go tomorrow.”
With both Quintana and López favouring tonight's iconic Lagos de Covadonga finale, the perfect place to watch the GC fireworks is with us on SBS Viceland, Twitter, here and via SBS On Demand - Sunday 9 September 11.05pm AEST.
Meanwhile team mate and ageing intolerant Alejandro Valverde was a bit disappointed with Yates' victory, despite his third place on the stage and second spot overall.
"If I’m honest, I’m a bit sad because I got the impression I could have won this (stage)," Valverde said.
"I didn’t know the climb well, I thought the final slopes were going to be harder — don’t get me wrong, full credit has to go to Simon, who deserved this victory. It was just that I waited for too long."
Quintana will no doubt hope to tap into his elder's frustration.
"We’ve got a strong advantage in Alejandro, always being by our side, and our strategy to defeat (Yates) must be based on making him nervous."