Jonas Vingegaard soloed to victory in the Vuelta a Espana stage 16 on Tuesday to climb to second overall, 29 seconds behind teammate and current race leader Sepp Kuss.
The American Jumbo-Visma rider has led the standings since stage eight but back-to-back Tour de France winner Vingegaard has now trimmed that advantage to a narrow margin.
Danish star Vingegaard admitted on Monday's rest day he suffered severe stomach problems in the first few stages of the race and said he was glad to still be involved – now he is firmly in contention for a third Grand Tour triumph.
⛰️⚡️ El estreno de Bejes nos regala un baile de los favoritos en sus duras rampas. Revive YA el ÚLTIMO KM.
⬅️ The first dance on Bejes did not disappoint! Watch the LAST KM 💃
#LaVuelta23 #CarrefourconLaVuelta23 @carrefourES pic.twitter.com/1tno2ONpgM — La Vuelta (@lavuelta) September 12, 2023
⛰️ Kuss se mantiene al frente de la CG pese a perder tiempo con sus rivales. ❤️¡Disfruta del minuto de La Roja!
⛰️❤️ Kuss still leads the GC, despite losing time today. Enjoy La Roja's minute!#LaVuelta23 @CarrefourES #CarrefourConLaVuelta pic.twitter.com/uCG77fkjh2 — La Vuelta (@lavuelta) September 12, 2023
Earlier on Tuesday another rider for the Dutch team, Nathan Van Hooydonck, was left in hospital after being involved in a car crash in Belgium.
"I'm just happy to win today, we had some terrible news this morning, I wanted to win for my best friend," Vingegaard told Eurosport.
"There is good news about it, about his condition, that's a big relief for me and for the team, and I hope he will recover soon."
Vingegaard would not be drawn on whether he would wrestle the red jersey on Wednesday from Kuss, who usually takes an assisting role rather than the limelight.
"I just want to enjoy this moment and not think about that," he added.
The peloton kept up a high speed on the wet run from Liencres beach to Bejes in Cantabria, a short 120.5 kilometres with a tricky category two climb finale.
The race started in the rain with plenty of attacks, but no solid breakaway formed, the group intact after 50 kilometres.
Halfway through the race the day's break finally formed, including green jersey holder Kaden Groves.
It was swallowed up with 10 kilometres to go and Vingegaard attacked first on the final climb with four remaining.
Nobody could catch him and now he sits close behind Kuss with three-time Vuelta winner and their teammate Primoz Roglic third, one minute and 33 behind the red jersey holder.
Stage 17 on Wednesday will likely be a crucial one in the general classification battle, running 124.5 kilometres between Ribadesella and Altu de L'Angliru.
The 78th edition of the Vuelta ends on Sunday in Madrid after 21 stages and 3 153.8 kilometres.