The Spanish outfit placed second and third on stage 14 to La Farrapona Lagos de Somiedo, with Juan Jose Cobo and David De La Fuente, and Cobo now sits 4th on GC, 55 seconds behind Wiggins.
De La Fuente placed himself in the day’s early break and broke clear with stage winner Rein Taaramae before the final climb. Cobo on the other hand bided his time and reacted to Daniel Moreno’s final surge, using it as a launch pad to distance the favourites.
The move caused chaos behind as a number of GC pretenders wilted under the pressure.
“Everything went according to plan. In the final when I saw Moreno attack I understood that it was the right moment to try to go long, so I did,” Cobo said.
The move sparked De la Fuente to surprisingly sit up and wait for Cobo.
“De la Fuente was exceptional in putting himself at my service and helping me, but I also have to thank all my other teammates, we all raced really well. Menchov did a great job on the second-to-last climb, which was also fundamental. We didn’t win the stage but with this move I managed to get away from Wiggins and gain a few valuable seconds in the classification.”
Depending on his recovery, Cobo could well be Wiggins’ closest challenger. With Nibali over a minute down much will come down to Sunday’s battle on the Angrilu where riders are often separated by minutes rather than seconds. Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) sits 36 seconds down on Wiggins, but unlike Cobo was unwilling or unable to go on the attack on stage 14.
“Tomorrow is going to be a hard day with the arrival on Angliru; it’s not a climb that’s well suited to my skills but I’m in good shape and I feel good. We’ll see what happens and how things go,” Cobo said.