Madrid - Slovenia's Primoz Roglic pulverised his key rivals at the Vuelta a Espana individual time-trial on Tuesday to take a commading lead with eleven stages remaining.
Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) posted a razor-sharp time of 47:05 to seize the leader's red jersey frpm climb specialist Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who lost more ground than he might have expected.
Quintana has in fact slipped to fourth in the general classification, three minutes adrift of Roglic, while another Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) is 2:11 back in third while world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is in second at 1:52 behind.
"These differences were predictable," insisted a defiant Valverde.
"It is clear that Roglic was the big favourite for this stage and he proved it," Valverde said.
"But the Vuelta still has a long way to go. One more minute, one less, that doesn't mean anything."
Former ski jumper Roglic, who came third at the Giro in May, banks on doing well in the time trial and holding on in the hills.
"You just try to ride as fast as possible so I'm happy with the performance, for sure," Roglic said.
The crushing victory puts Roglic firmly in charge of the Vuelta, Spain's premier cycling event, whose tenth stage unusually took place entirely in France.
The 36.2-kilometre course between Jurancon and Pau was full of winding country lanes and technically demanding descents that were always likely to challenge those more comfortable on the climbs.
But Quintana would still have been disappointed with his showing, which leaves the Colombian with a significant gap to close in the event's more mountainous stages that remain.
Roglic edged out Patrick Bevin (CCC Team), who came second on the stage, with fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) the only general contender to make much of an impression. He remains fifth overall after winning stage nine on Sunday.
Bevin came in 25 seconds slower than Roglic while third-placed Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was a further two seconds back.
The 11th stage on Thursday will see riders negotiate an 180km route between Saint-Palais and Urdax.
Vuelta a Espana tenth stage results on Tuesday, 36.2km from Jurancon to Pau:
1. Primoz Roglic (SLO/JUM) 47min 05sec, 2. Patrick Bevin (NZL/CPT) at 25sec, 3. Remi Cavagna (FRA/DQT) 27, 4. G Lawson Craddock (USA/EFD) 48, 5. Nelson Oliveira (POR/MOV) at 1:02, 6. Pierre Latour (FRA/ALM) 1:14, 7. Thomas de Gendt (BEL/LTS) 1:21, 8. Marc Soler (SPA/MOV) 1:22, 9. Dylan Teuns (BEL/TBM) 1:27, 10. Daniel Martinez (COL/EFD) 1:28.
1. Primoz Roglic (SLO/JUM) 36hr 5min 29sec, 2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) at 1.52 sec, 3. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) 2:11 sec, 4. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 3:00, 5. Tadej Pogacar (SLO/UAE) 3:05, 6. Carl Fredrik Hagen (NOR/LOT) 4:59, 7. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 5:42, 8. Nicolas Edet (FRA/COF) 5:49, 9. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BAH) 6:07, 10. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN) 6:25.