Primoz Roglic got himself back into La Roja with a superb effort in stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Two-time defending champion Roglic headed into Wednesday's route trailing general classification leader Odd Christian Eiking by 96 seconds, yet he put himself in a brilliant position to win a third successive Vuelta title.
Egan Bernal, another of the pre-race favourites, attacked with 61km remaining, but his effort was matched by Olympic gold medallist Roglic, who then powered away from the Colombian with 12km to go.
Giro d'Italia champion Bernal could not keep the pace and as Roglic powered away up the final ascent of Lagos de Covadonga, he was swallowed up by the chasing pack in the final kilometre.
Roglic crossed the line well over a minute ahead of Jumbo-Visma team-mate Sepp Kuss and now holds a big advantage over Movistar duo Enric Mas and Miguel Angel Lopez, while Eiking was dropped by the chasing group before he crashed on a descent.
While he will be confident of holding on to defend his title, Roglic knows Thursday's stage – a 162.6km route featuring four climbs – will be crucial.
"In cycling there's always a risk and a lot of things can happen but it went well today. I enjoyed it and it's a super nice day for me and the whole team," he said.
"I just went with [Bernal]. It's a race eh? I didn't think, I just went with him. Then I was thinking 'it's quite far' a little bit. It's still a hard climb at the end. I was going good, it was a real show, real racing.
"I just tried to ride up the climb as fast as possible. At that point Egan didn't follow anymore so I just went alone.
"Tomorrow is a real queen stage coming. We'll see if [my lead] will be enough after tomorrow."
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 04:34:45
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +1:35
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) same time
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 68:42:56
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:22
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +3:11
1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 145
3. Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) 123
King of the Mountains
1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 51
2. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 34
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 33
Thursday's race from Salas to Altu d'El Gamoniteiru really could decide the general classification tussle in Roglic's favour should he triumph. It features two category one climbs, one category two ascent and a summit finish.