Remco Evenepoel narrowly extended his lead at the top of the General Classification after a Stage 18 victory on the Vuelta a Espana, having been towed by rival Enric Mas.
The pair overtook Robert Gesink in the final 500 metres, with Evenepoel surging ahead of Mas to clinch the bonus seconds that led to his overall triumph looking to be a formality.
Gesink appeared to be closing in on a win that would have provided a welcome boost to his Jumbo-Visma team following the withdrawal of leader Primoz Roglic earlier this week, but was cruelly denied by Evenepoel.
With three stages remaining, the Belgian boasts a lead of two minutes and seven seconds, a maiden Grand Tour title set to go his way this weekend with sights set on Sunday's finale in Madrid.
The provisional podium ahead of the finale has Juan Ayuso Pesquera in third, sitting five minutes and 14 seconds off the lead and having a 42 second advantage over fourth-placed Miguel Angel Lopez.
Rodriguez, involved in a crash earlier in the race, was paced home by team-mate Richard Carapaz after the Ecuadorian was caught in the final climb and denied a third stage win.
Vine abandons after Pedersen crash
The battle for the polka dot jersey was blown wide open on Thursday following a crash that led runaway leader Jay Vine to retire, the Australian having taken two summit wins earlier in the race.
A big incident with 171 kilometres remaining of Stage 18 saw Mads Pedersen, with the green jersey, and podium hopeful Carlos Rodriguez also involved, but it was Vine who suffered the biggest blow.
Vine's exit elevates Richard Carapaz to the lead, the Ecuadorian also clinching two summit wins in 2022.
1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 4:45:17
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +0:02
3. Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) +0:02
4. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:13
5. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +0:13
1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 69:59:12
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:07
3. Juan Ayuso Pesquera (UAE Team Emirates) +5:14
1. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 349
2. Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) 149
3. Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) 133
King of the Mountains
1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 45
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) 25
3. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) 23