A rapid start out of Lleida saw a big battle to get into the break of the day. With only a pair of summit finishes remaining Team Sky were heavily in the mix, with Michal Kwiatkowski, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jonathan Castroviejo attempting to push clear.
After a trio featuring Kwiatkowski was hauled back, Castroviejo was finally able to break free in a three-man group. Yet with Movistar riding hard behind, and Tom Van Asbroeck (EF Education First-Drapac) dropping back to the bunch, the move never stood much of a chance.
With the gap pegged at around two minutes, Castroviejo and Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ) were hauled back in ahead of the day’s focal point – the first category Coll de la Rabassa summit finish.
The general classification contenders went toe to toe, with an early acceleration from Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at 13km to go putting David de la Cruz into difficulties on the steep slopes. The Spaniard remains the team's best-placed rider overall in 17th.
Race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) proved more than equal to the task, finishing second on the stage behind Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), but extending his red jersey advantage to 1:38 over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).