HOME-FAVOURITE Alejandro Valverde held off Britain’s Chris Froome to reclaim the red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana.
Valverde regained the overall lead with a climbing master-class in the first of eight summit finishes in this year’s Vuelta.
The 168 kilometre stage from Benalmadena to La Zubia ended with a three-man kick to the line with Froome and compatriot Alberto Contador hot on the Spaniard’s heels.
Three more Spaniards finished in the top ten, with Joaquim Rodriguez behind the front three, and Daniel Navarro and Mikel Nieve finishing eighth and ninth respectively.
In a thrilling finale Rodriguez was first to attack with 700 metres remaining as the Spaniards worked together in Granada’s searing heat.
Froome and Contador latched on to the group but Valverde proved too strong.
Friday’s seventh stage is a 169 kilometre race from Alhendin to Alcaudete, which may favour a rider who gets in the break.
Stage six results:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) 4:35:27
2. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) ST
3. Alberto Contador (Spa/Tankoff-Saxo)
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) +8
5. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +12
6. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +18
7. Esteban Chaves (Col/Orica) +25
8. Daniel Navarro (Spa/Cofidis)
9. Mikel Nieve (Spa/Team Sky) +32
10. Robert Gesink (NED/Belkin) +33
Overall classifications after stage six:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) 22:48:08
2. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +15
3. Alberto Contador (Spa/Tinkoff-Saxo) +18
4. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +22
5. Esteban Chaves (Col/Orica) +41
6. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) +45
7. Robert Gesink (NED/Belkin) +55
8. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +58
9. Warren Barguil (Fra/Giant) +1:02
10. Wilco Kelderman (NED/Belkin) +1:06