Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) has won Stage 3 of Itzulia Basque Country, narrowly edging out compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo–Visma) in a dramatic finish.
It was a sprint to the line and the 22-year-old took it in a breathtaking final 150m, finishing in a time of 4:04:50.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) won the sprint for third (+5"). Britain's Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) took fourth just ahead of fifth-placed Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious).
'I had to meet Brailsford in supermarket in secret' - Wiggins on Team Sky move
David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) completed the top six.
WATCH - Final stages of astonishing finish that saw Pogacar eventually beat Roglic
Pogacar and Roglic broke away on the final uphill finish as the two went head-to-head for the final two kilometres in a brutal ending to the 167.7km stage.
Roglic gave his all to catch up with Pogacar, but the Tour de France champion stayed out in front.
- Ineos? QuickStep? Trek? Where next for Peter Sagan?
- 'Wow, what a sprint' - Wiebes wins Scheldeprijs in style
- Re-Cycle: When Backstedt denied Museeuw the cobbled swansong at Paris-Roubaix
With 1.5km left the Slovenian pair went on the counter-attack and opened up a huge gap on Yates. The Brit, alongside Landa, made up ground in the final kilometre heading into the final downhill run.
Highlights: Stage 3 of Itzulia Basque Country as Pogacar and Roglic do battle
And in an enthralling sprint to the line, Pogacar sealed the victory in Ermualde.
"In the morning we had gone by car to see the finish and the team manager Matxin had explained the route to me well," Pogacar said after the race.
"I was aware of the toughness of the climb and I knew that it would be crucial to be in first position on the final crest to launch well into the final meters downhill towards the finish.
"This success makes me very happy because, after racing here in the Basque Country two years ago, I have always had the ambition to come back and do well : it is a very beautiful race and the enthusiasm of the fans is really amazing.
There are still three days of racing, all quite hard. I’m pretty optimistic because the condition is good and the team is racing very well together.
'It’s useless to make false promises' - Are Giro wheels coming off already for Ineos?
Van der Breggen, Van Aert & Roglic - The top 10 riders of the 2021 season so far