Dimension Data's Omar Fraile rode the breakaway into the Vuelta a Espana's blue polka dot mountains jersey Monday during stage 10 as he targets a second consecutive victory in the special classification.
Fraile was among the final survivors of a 16-man group that went clear after 70km of racing. He eventually finished fourth on the stage after fighting to stay with Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Chris Froome (Team Sky).
"The break took a really long time to go away," he explained. "For 70km it was just attack after attack, it was very fast and a difficult start. When we finally went away it was easier and then in the final I had a good feeling. I knew my form was good so I was just being patient and riding a good rhythm."
Fraile attacked the breakaway as the group made its way up the 6km category 1 Alto de Fito at 42km to go. He took maximum mountain points on the climb and had a small gap as he went over the top of the climb with Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis). The 14 chasers pulled the duo back in the valley before the start of the day's summit finish on the 12.2km Lavos da Covadonga.
The gap was just 2:30 when Fraile and the rest of the escapees reached the bottom of the climb, and he was dropped after a few initial accelerations. But the 26-year-old Spaniard fought back, latching onto the wheels of the GC contenders as they began to sweep up the breakaway riders.
"When the favourites came, it was possible to hold their wheel," Fraile said. "I am really happy with this ride as I could move into the climber's jersey which was the goal I had for the day. The jersey gives me good motivation which I will take into the next stages."
Of the original break group, only Gesink remained up the road, and Fraile was able to hold the wheel of Quintana and Contador as they attacked and dropped Froome. Quintana attacked again with three kilometres to go, dropping Fraile and Quintana as Froome benefited from a second wind and began to reel the leader back.
Quintana was the only rider to get back on terms with Gesink, however, taking the stage win and the overall lead. Froome recovered for third, and Frail eventually dropped Quintana to finish fourth ahead of his countryman Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), at 28 seconds back. Contador eventually finished eighth, 1:05 back.
Fraile has a total of 20 points in the mountains competition but faces a battle with fellow climbing and breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), who is now second with 19 points.