Moncoutie on one last climb.
Denis Menchov, who reappeared after an unassuming Vuelta took the Mundo by the Bola from breakaway companion Richie Porte in the last 500 metres to victory.
La Fantome strikes!
Menchov was the rider with the legs to win this difficult stage. For Porte, a near stage win but importantly a confidence booster for the upcoming UCI World Championship Road Race. Compatriot, Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) rode a stellar stage raking enough points to win the KOMs blue polka dot jersey.
Rodriguez put in a massive effort, perhaps too little too late, with 2 kms remaining to beat out Valverde (25s) and a ragged looking Contador (43s). Purito was unashamedly strong, making a statement that he was the strongest rider of this year's race.
For Contador a victory of legends, especially after his Stage 17 heroics, that he is a worthy Vuelta champion.
It was also heroic for Andrew Talansky, the American riding a solid and consistent Vuelta finishing 15th and back up to 7th overall.
After Sunday, David Moncoutie will retire from a cycling career spent with one team, Cofidis. Loyalty is his middle name and known as one of the best climbers in the business. He holds 4 KOMs at the Vuelta and leaves this race 10th in the mountains classification.
The Pit-Bull Talansky keeps on fighting!