Carlos Sastre attacked on yesterday's final climb up to the summit finish of Calar Alto but was distanced slightly by the repeated accelerations by Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). He finished fifth, five seconds behind his two biggest GC riders, but had the satisfaction of seeing Andrey Kashechkin drop from second to fourth overall.
Although it is looking increasingly likely that the battle for the final race victory is between current leader Valverde and second-placed Vinokourov - who is now equal on time to Sastre - the affable Spaniard told reporters this morning that he will keep battling.
"I will fight on and see where that takes me. If I win or don't win, if I finish first or third or fifth, we will see. I think aggressive racing is spectacular and also good for the Tour of Spain. I will do what I can do in the days ahead.
"All my team-mates are here to back me. We have a common goal, to try to win this Tour of Spain. The team has supported me in that aim from the first day. Valverde and Vinokourov are two very strong riders and have shown so far that they are maybe a little stronger than me. But they are not very far ahead and I will see what the next days bring."