Remi Cavagna made a magnificent solo break to claim his maiden Grand Tour stage victory as Primoz Roglic stayed on course to win the Vuelta a Espana despite a crash which cut short Tony Martin's race.
Cavagna made his move 25 kilometres from the end of a flat stage 19 from Avila to Toledo and the Deceuninck-Quick Step man stayed out in front to win by five seconds, despite the peloton closing in.
Roglic was among a whole host of riders - including many of his team-mates - involved in a smash that split the bunch 67km from the finish on Friday, while Miguel Angel Lopez also hit the deck.
The race leader's colleague Tony Martin abandoned as a result of the accident, yet Roglic was able to rejoin with 29km to go. He will start a tough penultimate stage on Saturday with an advantage of two minutes and 50 seconds and on the brink of winning the title.
Roglic lost three seconds to Alejandro Valverde in an uphill sprint but would surely have taken that situation when he got back on his bike after taking a fall.
Cavagna was among a bunch of 10 riders to make an early break following an uphill start and led by 26 seconds heading into the last 10km, with his closest rivals over a minute back.
The chasing pack caught up close to the finish, yet Cavagna clung on for a hard-earned victory.
1. Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 3:43:34
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) +00.05
3. Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
4. Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 75:00:33
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +02:50
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +03:31
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 143
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 114
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 110
King of the Mountains
1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale) 76
2. Angel Madrazo (Burgos BH) 44
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team INEOS) 35
A tough 190.4km stage from Arenas de San Pedro to Plataforma de Gredos on Saturday, featuring five mountain passes with a 9.4km final ascent to the finish - where Roglic could take a major move towards the title.