This is what happened until now:
There were 167 riders at the start in Noja today, with one athlete calling it quits: Tony Martin (HTC). From the gun, the peloton raced a furious pace as many riders thried to get away. But with the first intermediate sprint at km 19, Team Sky held the field together in order to get a chance to make second-placed Chris Froome grab some precious bonus seconds.
With time bonuses of 20-12-8 seconds awarded to the first three riders in the finish, and 6-4-2 available at intermediate sprints, every second could count on the way to Madrid. Before the stage, Juan-José Cobo (Geox) led Froome by only 13 seconds.
But the points jersey is also still highly contested, and so it was Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez first at the sprint, taking the most points. Geox rider David de la Fuente was second, and Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) third. The Dutchman lies in second position in the points classification.
Mountains classification leader David Moncoutié (Cofidis) was next to attack, as well as Thomas Rohregger (Leopard) - but all in vain. No-one was able to get away until km 29, when a quartet finally got a gap: Euskaltel riders Igor Anton and Gorka Verdugo, joined by Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar) and Aleksandr Dyachenko (Astana).
As the race came up to the first climb, Cat. 2 Puerto de la Granja, the peloton split in two parts, with overall leader Cobo however safely in the first group - together with the other GC contenders. The breakaway's advantage grew rapidly, with best-placed rider on GC being Bruseghin in 17th place at 9'58" of the red jersey.