The 36-year-old jumped clear of his breakaway companions on the final ascent to Estación de Montaña Manzaneda to take stage victory and to move within touching distance of the Matteo Montaguti’s lead in the mountains classification.
“Part of the contract is already fulfilled, now I just have to take the climber’s jersey,” Moncoutié told L’Équipe. “I’m only a point behind Montaguti, but nothing is simple. I know that there are still three finishes at altitude and that the favourites will undoubtedly fight it out at the front. I’ll need to pick up the maximum amount of points when the occasion presents itself.”
Coming on the back of the rest day and with Sky controlling affairs in the peloton, Moncoutié sensed beforehand that Wednesday’s stage might offer fertile ground for a lengthy breakaway.
“This stage was one of the ones that I had ticked off, and the scenario played out perfectly,” he said. “I had imagined that Sky would let a break go, and as the route included three cols before the final climb, I didn’t hesitate to put myself forward as soon as the first break was formed.”
Following a disappointing Tour de France, where a second place finish in Lourdes was the high-water mark, Moncoutié was publicly considering retirement. His form since, and particularly his showing at the Vuelta to date, appears to have swayed his opinion.
“I have good feeling with this race. I feel perfectly well and don’t feel any stress,” Moncoutié said. “I think that I still have my place within the peloton.”