Igor Antón showed the bravado and panache that once made him famous on Saturday's mountainous eighth stage of the Vuelta a España.
The diminutive climber attacked four clicks out from the summit of the previously untested Peñas Blancas, hoping to catch the favourites cold. And he very nearly did. Despite missing the top shape that in the past handed him four Vuelta stages, he nearly soloed to what would have been a momentous win for both him and his crumbling team.
At 600 metres from the line he got caught by eventual victor Leopold König, though, and then had to settle for seventh on the line.
Post stage, he was both proud and annoyed.
"It's a real shame that I got so close yet missed out", he said. "I wanted to surprise, and I knew I couldn't wait 'till the finale - it would have been really hard against riders like Rodríguez and Valverde. I hoped they would slow down behind me, but the finishing straight put paid to my chances.
"To ride all alone against a group like that is tough. Still, though, I'm happy with how I did. I can walk with my head held high".
While Antón's ride was heartwarming, the other Euskaltel stars' were not.
Samuel Sánchez never looked like staying the distance, eventually finishing 21st. Mikel Nieve had an even worse day, coming in over three minutes down in 40th.
After eight stages, Nieve remains the top placed Euskaltel rider on GC in 31st - 4:24 in arrears.
- (1, Leopold König (NetApp-Endura), 4:09:46)
- 7, Igor Antón, 0:13
- 21, Samuel Sánchez, 0:40
- 40, Mikel Nieve, 3:03
- 55, Jorge Azanza, 7:51
- 57, Mikel Landa, s.t.
- 65, Egoi Martínez, 12:13
- 66, Gorka Verdugo, 12:14
- 118, Juan José Oroz, 18:53
- 184, Pablo Urtasun, s.t.