The Movistar Team took a giant step forward to win the 2016 Vuelta a España into a historic stage. Right from eight kilometers into the short (118km) day fifteen in the Spanish grandtour, from Sabiñánigo to Formigal, the squad managed by Eusebio Unzué got themselves into a break that might become decisive for the final outcome. Nairo Quintana hit hard at the end of the second Pyrenes stage and now sits almost four minutes ahead of both Chris Froome (SKY) and Esteban Chaves (OBE), just seven days from glory in Cibeles.

A 14-man split, with three from the telephone squad -Nairo, Jonathan Castroviejo and Rubén Fernández- plus three from Tinkoff, including Alberto Contador, took both the Briton and the Bogotan out of situation and soon opened a gap which grew up to 1'30" at the foot of Petralba (Cat-3), the first real climb of the day. Imanol Erviti and Alejandro Valverde put on big efforts to isolate Froome and keep him out of morale, a series of attacks which the 'green jersey' holder kept coming into Formigal. Only the efforts from Orica, BMC and most notably Astana, in order to defend their overall positions, could try to reduce Nairo's gap as his lead group reached three minutes at the bottom of Cotefablo (Cat-2).

Despite the accelerations from Yates (OBE) and Sánchez (BMC) cutting the margin in half -Froome always riding alone-, the prodigious efforts by Fernández, into the climb, and Castroviejo, superb in the flats, allowed Nairo consolidating his advantage towards the end of the last climb. Quintana finished 29” ahead of Contador, 1’49” up against Chaves and 2’30” over ‘Bala’ and Froome, as Gianluca Brambilla (EQS), the only able to follow his wheel in the end, took the stage. 3’37” is the margin Nairo will enjoy against Froome, heading into the last five real competition stages in this Vuelta, prior to the final parade into Madrid.