San Sebastian - Spanish rider David de la Cruz won the third stage and moved into the overall lead of the Tour of the Basque Country with a brave solo break on Wednesday.
De la Cruz attacked towards the end of the fifth and final climb of the day, 15 kilometres from the end of the 160.5km ride from Vitoria to San Sebastian.
And he just had enough to hold off former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski and Australia's Jay McCarthy in second and third respectively by three seconds in a winning time of 3hrs 54mins 25secs.
"When I saw I was alone at the front I thought it was an ambitious move because there was still a long way to go to the finish line," said De la Cruz.
"But I tried my luck and it came off."
De la Cruz leads from McCarthy and Kwiatkowski in the overall standings by three seconds.
Pre-race favourites Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador are also three seconds back overall as Valverde was fourth on the day with Contador a lowly 33rd.
De la Cruz will be confident of defending his lead on Thursday's 174.1km fourth stage from San Sebastian to Bilbao before Friday's queen stage with two category one climbs from Bilbao to Eibar.
"This is a very tough tour with a lot of high-quality riders, but it is true we are in a good position," added De la Cruz.
Results from the third stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, a 160.5km ride from Vitoria to San Sebastian on Wednesday:
1. David de la Cruz (ESP/QST) 3hr 54min 25sec, 2. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/SKY) at 0:03, 3. Jay McCarthy (AUS/BOR) s.t., 4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t., 5. Giovanni Visconti (ITA/TBM) s.t., 6. Rudy Molard (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 7. Diego Ulissi (ITA/UAD) s.t., 8. Patrick Konrad (AUT/BOH) s.t., 9. Tosh Van der Sande (BEL/LTS) s.t., 10. Warren Barguil (FRA/SUN) s.t.
1. David de la Cruz (ESP/QST) 3hr 54min 25sec, 2. Jay McCarthy (AUS/BOR) at 0:03, 3. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/SKY) s.t., 4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) s.t., 5. Patrick Konrad (AUT/BOH) s.t., 6. Rudy Molard (FRA/FDJ) s.t., 7. Tosh Van der Sande (BEL/LTS) s.t., 8. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/AST) s.t., 9. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) s.t., 10. Ruben Fernandez (ESP/MOV) s.t.