Defending champion Remco Evenepoel bounced back from his Vuelta a Espana meltdown the day before in the Pyrenees to take a superb victory on the mountainous 14th stage to the ski resort of Larra-Balagua on Saturday.
The Belgian rider's general classification hopes may be over after shipping 27 minutes on Friday's brutal climbs. But he redeemed himself in style to hold off Romain Bardet after the two had broken away from an escape group on the Col Hourcere.
France's Bardet (DSM-Firmenich) stayed on the wheel of Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) for the first half of the 9.5km climb to the finish but had no answer when the Belgian poured on the power with 3.5km remaining to win by more than a minute.
Evenepoel's masterclass on the 156.5km route spanning the France-Spain border put him in firm control of the king of the mountains standings as he scooped up stacks of points by winning each of the day's four categorised ascents.
The charismatic 23-year-old was emotional after crossing the line with his arms aloft, fighting back tears as he perhaps reflected on what might have been but for Friday's collapse.
Back in the peloton, the battle for the red jersey – now looking like being between Jumbo-Visma's powerhouse trio Sepp Kuss, Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard – was unchanged.
American Kuss retained the red jersey and his one minute 37 seconds advantage over three-times Vuelta winner Roglic while Vingegaard is 1:44 adrift.
The next best-placed in the standings is Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) who is 2:37 back on Kuss.
Evenepoel's horror show on Friday was completely unexpected but the way he bounced back was more predictable.
From the beginning of the stage he was in every attack and once the escape group became established it was clear he was the boss of it – making a tough day look like a breeze.
"Yesterday was a very difficult day and also the evening with a lot of negative thoughts in my head," Evenepoel said.
"Today I just woke up and thought 'Go for it and make the best of it'. I did a recon of this stage as I knew it would be important for the GC, and I knew perfectly how the climbs were, how hard they were.
"It was a super tough stage but really nice to take my second stage win. I think I can be very proud of this answer after yesterday."
Sunday's stage is a hilly route from Pamplona to Lekunberri.
1. Remco Evenepoel (BEL) Soudal - Quick-Step 4:13:38
2. Romain Bardet (FRA) Team dsm-firmenich +1:12
3. Lennert Van Eetvelt (BEL) Lotto - Dstny +6:33
4. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) INEOS Grenadiers +6:35
5. Michael Storer (AUS) Groupama - FDJ +7:24
6. David De La Cruz (ESP) Astana - Qazaqstan Team +8:21
7. Aleksandr Vlasov () BORA - hansgrohe +8:22
8. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo - Visma "
9. Wout Poels (NED) Bahrain Victorious "
10. Juan Ayuso (ESP) UAE Team Emirates "
11. Mikel Landa (ESP) Bahrain Victorious "
12. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Jumbo - Visma "
13. Enric Mas (ESP) Movistar Team "
14. Cian Uijtdebroeks (BEL) BORA - hansgrohe "
15. Primož Roglic (SLO) Jumbo - Visma "
16. João Almeida (POR) UAE Team Emirates "
17. Marc Soler (ESP) UAE Team Emirates "
18. Antonio Tiberi (ITA) Bahrain Victorious +8:44
19. Cristián Rodríguez (ESP) Team Arkéa - Samsic +9:07
20. Steff Cras (BEL) TotalEnergies +9:22
1. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo - Visma 51:04:54
2. Primož Roglic (SLO) Jumbo - Visma +1:37
3. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Jumbo - Visma +1:44
4. Juan Ayuso (ESP) UAE Team Emirates +2:37
5. Enric Mas (ESP) Movistar Team +3:06
6. Marc Soler (ESP) UAE Team Emirates +3:10
7. Mikel Landa (ESP) Bahrain Victorious +4:12
8. Aleksandr Vlasov () BORA - hansgrohe +5:02
9. Cian Uijtdebroeks (BEL) BORA - hansgrohe +5:30
10. João Almeida (POR) UAE Team Emirates +8:39
11. David De La Cruz (ESP) Astana - Qazaqstan Team +9:25
12. Steff Cras (BEL) TotalEnergies +9:39
13. Santiago Buitrago (COL) Bahrain Victorious +13:15
14. Cristián Rodríguez (ESP) Team Arkéa - Samsic +17:31
15. Remco Evenepoel (BEL) Soudal - Quick-Step +19:12