(CNN) -- Defending Giro d'Italia and Vuelta Espana champion Alberto Contador again showed he is the man to beat in this year's major stage races with an impressive win in Wednesday's 172.5km third stage of the Tour of the Basque Country.
Contador is again proving the man to beat in the major European stage races this year.
The Spaniard launched a devastating late attack on the final climb of the mountainous stage, to come home nine seconds ahead of Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans and compatriots Samuel Sanchez and Antonio Colom -- taking the race lead by the same margin in the process.
The Astana rider takes over the leader's jersey from Monday's stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez, who finished 35 seconds down on Wednesday stage from Villatuerta to Eibar.
Thursday's stage takes the peloton 161km from Eibar to Guenes but the race is expected to be decided in Saturday's individual time-trial.