Italy's Luca Paolini won the 12th stage of the Tour of Spain after pulling clear of a breakaway of 12 riders close to the finish in Guadalajara.
Paolini left his fellow breakaway riders trailing
Belgian Bart Dockx was second on the 169 km stage from Aranda de Duero, with Italy's Paolo Bettini was third.
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde finished safely in the main bunch around nine minutes later and kept the overall lead for a fourth successive stage.
It was Paolini's first stage victory in one of cycling's major tours.
He said the win was a big boost ahead of the World Championships in Austria later this month.
Paolini said: "I've shown I'm in top condition for the worlds because everybody in the break was there for the win and I beat them all. It was like a one-day race."
Valverde, who leads by 27 seconds, was happy enough with his day's work.
"My team was lucky because a break went clear for the third straight day in a row and all we had to do was control things behind," he said.
"The rain mid-stage made it a bit more dangerous, but I got through okay."
Tour of Spain stage 12 results:
1 Luca Paolini (Ita/Liquigas) 3:35:07"
2 Bart Dockx (Bel/Davitamon-Lotto) +5"
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita/Quick-Step)
4 Vladimir Gusev (Rus/Discovery Channel) +8"
5 David Arroyo (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne)
6 Ruben Perez (Spa/Euskaltel) +17"
7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut/Francaise des Jeux) +22"
8 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra/AG2R)
9 Heinrich Haussler (Ger/Gerolsteiner) +33"
10 Bjoern Leukemans (Bel/Davitamon-Lotto) +39"
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne ) 49:38:46"
2 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz/Astana) +27"
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa/Team CSC) +44"
4 Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa/Saunier Duval) +56"
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz/Astana) +1:38"
6 Janez Brajkovic (Slo/Discovery Channel) +2:05"
7 Danilo Di Luca (Ita/Liquigas) +2:21"
8 Manuel Beltran (SpaDiscovery Channel) +2:28"
9 Vladimir Karpets (Rus/Caisse d'Epargne) +3:02"
10 Sergio Paulinho (Por/Astana) +3:42"