Primoz Roglic retook the overall lead at the Vuelta a Espana, while Magnus Cort sealed victory in a tightly contested sixth stage.
Cort claimed a breakaway victory up the summit of Alto de la Montana de Cullera following a 158km route on Thursday.
EF Education-Nippo rider Cort finished just ahead of two-time defending champion Roglic, who could not quite catch the Dane up the 1.9km climb.
However, Roglic's efforts proved too much for Kenny Elissonde, who was dropped on the final ascent and had to relinquish La Roja to Slovenia's Olympic gold medallist.
Indeed, Elissonde fell out of the top 10 altogether, with another pre-race favourite – Colombian star Egan Bernal – rising to fifth in the general classification standings, 41 seconds behind Roglic.
Though Roglic's lead at the top of the GC is 25 seconds, the stage victory belonged to Cort.
"This one is special for me in a very different way. The stages I win are always in sprints and I'm very happy to show I can also do it in other terrains and finish off a breakaway like this today," he said.
"I knew we still had a chance. It's hard to know how big the gap is because they go fast in the bunch before a climb like that to get position.
"I could see we had a little gap. For me it was about getting as quickly as possible to the top. I hoped that none of my breakaway companions could stay in the wheel and I'd keep the bunch behind me. It was very close and I'm very happy that I kept Roglic just behind.
"I looked back with 150 metres to go and I could see him coming. I sprinted with everything I had and I luckily could keep him behind me."
1. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 3:30:53
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3. Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +0:00:02
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:00:04
5. Enric Mas (Movistar) same time
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 21:04:09
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:25
3. Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Movistar) +0:36
1. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 131
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 130
3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 67
King of the Mountains
1. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 10
2. Kenny Elissonde (Trek–Segafredo) 7
3. Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) 6
A 152km route from Gandia to the Balcon de Alicante takes La Vuelta into the mountains. There are six categorised climbs, including a category one summit finish. This is when Roglic, Alejandro Valverde, Bernal and the other favourites could really break clear.