Chris Horner regained the overall lead of the Vuelta a Espana from Vincenzo Nibali after a tight stage 19 which was won by Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez for the Katusha team.
American Horner, who had moved within three seconds of Nibali on Thursday, finished in fifth place which proved enough for him to take a three-second lead into Saturday's penultimate stage.
Rodriguez delighted the Spanish fans by bursting clear with one kilometre remaining of the 181km stage between San Vicente de la Barquera and Alto Naranco.
Rodriguez won by 11 seconds ahead of Italy's Diego Ulissi for the Lampre-Merida team, with Rodriguez's fellow Spaniard and Katusha rider Daniel Moreno Fernandez in third.
Nibali finished ninth, six seconds behind Horner, which was enough to see him lose the leader's red jersey and make Horner favourite to wrap up victory in Madrid on Sunday.
Nicolas Roche had launched a late attack half-way up the final climb of the stage but could not get clear of Rodriguez, who raced to victory. Roche had to be content with 10th place and remains fifth overall.