Contador surges to victory
Alberto Contador claimed a thrilling victory on stage six of the Tour de San Luis but was unable to shake off general classification leader Daniel Diaz, who now seems certain to secure overall victory on Sunday.
With the race reaching its final summit finish on the Mirador del Sol, Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) launched a trademark stinging attack 2km from the line and although he initially distanced his rivals, Argentine Diaz (San Luis Somos Todos) managed to fight back on to his wheel.
Diaz then attempted an attack of his own, but Contador stayed with him, before emerging from his slipstream to win a sprint to the finish.
Contador punched the air as he crossed the line, yet it was Diaz who had the most reason to celebrate.
He now has a 33-second advantage in the GC over second-placed Tejay van Garderen (BMC), who was sixth on the day, and with Sunday's final stage appearing too straightforward for any major changes in the standings, victory is his to lose.
He will remain wary of Contador, though, after the Spaniard effectively won last year's Vuelta a Espana with a long-range solo attack on a similarly rolling stage. He goes into the final day fourth in the GC, one minute four seconds down.
Stage six of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina took the riders on a 156km mountainous route from Quines to Mirador del Sol, a climb that average 8.75 per cent gradient over 7km.
A group of five riders - Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida), Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE), Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare), Mauro Finetto (Vini Fantini) and Diego Rosa (Androni Giocattoli) - broke away from the peloton and opened up a gap of around 3min 30 secs, but were caught shortly before the final climb of the day.
The lead riders in the race soon moved to the front of the field, but it wasn't until Contador launched his attack that the bunch was blown apart and gaps created.
Only Brazil's Alex Diniz (Funvic Brasilinvest) could stay with the leading two riders and crossed the line at the same time as Diaz, two seconds down on Contador.
Further back down the order, former world champion Thor Hushovd (BMC) abandoned the race.
Sunday's seventh stage takes the riders on a rolling 154km route from San Luis to Juana Koslay, with the only categorised climb being the third-category Alto de los Puquios inside the first 20km.