Ben Swift was thwarted again on stage 19 of the Vuelta on an uphill finish built for the strongest of strongmen.
Swift had the perfect wheel coming into the finale, Phillipe Gilbert struck out first and for a time it looked like Swift would reverse yesterday's result.
However in the closing hundred metres, Gilbert had the strength to look for the line, while Swift - out of gas - could only find the strength to look over his shoulder.
It was a plucky attempt in a closing five kilometres riddled with attacks after the breakaway for the day was caught. On the drag to the finish a group containing Juan Antonio Flecha, Nicholas Roche, John Degenkolb and Matt Breschel went clear before the very depleted peloton made the catch.
Gilbert went early and only Swift followed, but the tempo from the best one-day racer of 2011 was too much and Swift was forced to submit within sight of the finishing gantry.
Chris Froome remained fourth on general classification and will be tested tomorrow for the penultimate time, as the Vuelta reaches its closing stages.
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
3 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team
4 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team
5 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:00:03
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
7 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan
8 Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling
9 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling
General classification after stage 19
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank - Tinkoff Bank 77:21:49
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:35
3 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:02:21
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:09:48
5 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:11:29
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:12:00
7 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:12:58
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:13:09
9 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:13:52
10 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:15:54