La Manzaneda - French climbing specialist David Moncoutie took victory in the 11th stage of the Tour of Spain Wednesday, a 167km ride from Verin to La Manzaneda which ended on a mountaintop.
Britain's Bradley Wiggins took the overall leader's red jersey from compatriot and fellow Sky team-mate Christopher Froome.
"I knew that if I stayed with the climbers I could take the leader's jersey," the 31-year-old said at the end of the race.
"The ideas are very clear at Sky. Froome took the jersey but he knew he came to help me achieve the jersey, it is an effort that I appreciate greatly."
Wiggins, who crashed out of the Tour de France in July with a broken collarbone, is now seven seconds ahead of Froome in the overall standings and 11 seconds ahead of Italy's defending champion Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas in third.
Moncoutie, of Cofidis, was part of a key breakaway group that took on the final 19km climb but launched a solo attack to finish the stage one minute and 18 seconds ahead of nearest rival Benat Intxausti of Movistar.
"I made this stage a priority. I wanted to get in the breakaway today and score points on the mountain stage. Lets just say that the scenario unfolded just as I had dreamed," the 36-year-old said.
"It is usually very difficult to pick the right breakway but having a mountain port in the begining I found it easier."
It was Moncoutie's fourth stage win on the Tour of Spain following victories in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
"We thought the change of climate and terrain would benefit us. I tried to catch the breakway but with Moncoutie it was difficult, he is unbeatable, we all know that he rarely fails, he proved he is the strongest,"said Intxausti.
The Tour of Spain continues on Thursday with a 167.3km ride between Ponteareas and Pontevedra that is mostly flat and is expected to end in a sprint finish.
Results of Wednesday's 11th stage of the Tour of Spain, a 167km ride from Verin:
1. David Moncoutie (FRA/COF) 4hr 38min 00sec
2. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) at 1min 18sec
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/RAB) 1:18.
4. Mathias Frank (SUI/BMC) 1:36.
5. Sergio Paulinho (POR/RSH) 1:43.
6. Matteo Montaguti (ITA/ALM) 2:29.
7. Amets Txurruka (ESP/EUS) 2:29.
8. Aitor Prez (ESP/LAM) 2:55.
9. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 3:01.
10. David Bernabu (ESP/ACA) 3:08.
11. Serguey Lagutin (UZB/VAC) 3:08.
12. Wout Poels (NED/VAC) 3:08.
13. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) 3:08.
14. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (ESP/GEO) 3:08.
15. Sergio Pardilla (ESP/MOV) 3:08.
16. Bauke Mollema (NED/RAB) 3:08.
17. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 3:08.
18. Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE/AST) 3:08.
19. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 3:08.
20. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) 3:08.
Overall standings after the 11th stage of the Tour of Spain:
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) 42hr 50min 41sec
2. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) at 0:07sec
3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 0:11.
4. Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE/AST) 0:14.
5. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/LEO) 0:19.
6. Bauke Mollema (NED/RAB) 0:47.
7. Maxime Monfort (BEL/LEO) 1:06.
8. Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (ESP/GEO) 1:27.
9. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP/RSH) 1:53.
10. Janez Brajkovic (SLO/RSH) 2:00.
11. Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL/OLO) 2:01.
12. Marzio Bruseghin (ITA/MOV) 2:22.
13. Denis Menchov (RUS/GEO) 2:42.
14. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 2:56.
15. Sergio Pardilla (ESP/MOV) 3:03.
16. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 3:39.
17. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) 3:47.
18. Nicolas Roche (IRL/ALM) 3:50.
19. Tiago Machado (POR/RSH) 4:06.
20. Wout Poels (NED/VAC) 4:21.