Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez was the clear-cut winner of the fifth stage of the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, a 170km trek from Eibar to Orio.
He crossed the line 14 seconds ahead of Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel) and overall leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) in what was a Spanish 1-2-3.
Team Sky's Sylvain Calzati had earlier been to the fore in a 10-man breakaway group but the race really took shape going up the category 2 Alto de Aia for the first time.
The brutal short climb forced a number of riders off their bikes and it was there that Rodriguez went after what had been reduced to a four-man lead group.
Having caught and passed that quartet Rodriguez opened up an advantage of over 30 seconds and, as he was only 48 seconds adrift on the GC, that forced Valverde to react.
He was joined in the pursuit by stage four winner Sánchez and RadioShack's Chris Horner and, though never able to get on terms with Rodriguez, Valverde did enough to stay in yellow.
Steve Cummings and Calzati led Team Sky home in 35th and 36th respectively, 2:35 behind, with the other six riders all crossing the line in the main group.
Looking to the future
Team Sky Race Coach Rod Ellingworth spoke to us afterwards to talk through the stage from the team's perspective.
He said: "Sylvain got in a 10-man breakaway group and was away for most of the day then. He looked pretty good but then as they came into the final couple of climbs, which were 22% and 26%, the group behind closed things up.
"RadioShack and Caisse d'Epargne controlled the race pretty well and brought it all back together.
"The rest of our guys rolled into what was the main group then and I think things are going okay with an eye to building for other races over the next few weeks.
"We now focus on the time trial tomorrow. We've been out looking at the course with Bradley [Wiggins]. It's really hard and doesn't suit him to be honest but the main thing is the process we are going to go through," stressed Ellingworth.