Sánchez crossed the line on the sixth stage in 15th place, 47 seconds down on stage winner and new race leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to drop one place in the overall classification to 12th.
"The best riders stayed in front and in the final one-and-a-half kilometers, I could not follow them," Sánchez said of the 167.7km stage that finished atop La Zubia. "I preferred to continue with my own pace to limit my losses."
With a select group containing Valverde and his teammate Nairo Quintana along with Chris Froome (Team Sky), Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) fighting it out for the win, Sánchez explained that with more than two-weeks of racing, there was no point on digging too depp too early into the race.
The 2008 Olympic gold medallist added that it was no surprise to see Contador riding aggressively in the finale, despite his injured leg to finish third.
"I have said from the first day that if Contador is here, he will be competitive," Sánchez said of the two-time Vuelta winner. "So is not a surprise for me."
Sánchez enjoyed a better day then his co-leader on the team Evans who finished 2:16 minutes behind Valverde in 38th place. The Australian is now 25th overall having started the day in 12th place.
"The team support for both riders was good," sport director Valerio Piva said. "I think Samuel gave it everything today, but he was just not able to follow the best. He climbed very hard like he has the past few days. There is still a long ways to go and we are here to try to win some stages. So we will take things day-by-day."
Tomorrow's 169km stage, from Alhendin to Alcaudete , is predominately flat and expected to suit a breakaway or bunch sprint finish from a reduced peloton.
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