Sepp Kuss has held on to the leader's red jersey at the Spanish Vuelta despite finishing behind Jumbo-Visma teammates Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic after a difficult climb in the 17th stage.
Roglic picked up his second stage win on Wednesday after he and Vingegaard dropped Kuss near the end of the 124.5km (77.3-mile) route that finished through the fog atop the Altu de L'Angliru summit in a classic Vuelta ascent.
Kuss was able to stay close enough to finish third, 19 seconds behind his teammates. His overall lead dropped to eight seconds ahead of Vingegaard, with Roglic more than a minute behind entering the final stages.
"I did my own tempo and the climb made the difference," Roglic said.
"I went for it and I did my own pace until the top. I spoke with Kuss. I know it's a weird feeling but on such a steep climb, everyone goes as fast as possible and then we see. I told him, 'keep fighting, keep believing and you will make it'.'"
Kuss is trying to become the first American to win a Grand Tour since Chris Horner won the Vuelta in 2013.
The 29-year-old Kuss entered the race in Spain as a support rider for Roglic and Vingegaard, but took the lead on Stage 8 and has yet to relinquish it.
Jumbo-Visma are trying to sweep all three Grand Tour races this year, with Roglic having won the Giro d'Italia and Vingegaard the Tour de France.
Roglic is looking to win a record-tying fourth Vuelta title, while Vingegaard is coming off a successful title defense in the Tour de France.
Australian Kaden Groves still leads the points competition in the race for the green jersey but Remco Evenepoel, in second place, reduced his lead from 93 points to 76.
The leading Australian in the general classification is Groupama-FDJ's Michael Storer, who's in 43rd place
On Thursday, riders face a 179km stage that includes an unprecedented mountain pass with two ascents at Cruz de Linares.