1. Oliverio Rincon (Colombia) ONCE 4.11.54 2. Laurent Jalabert (France) ONCE 0.37 3. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Lotus s.t. 4. Tony Rominger (Switzerland) Mapei 0.38 5. Roberto Pistore (Italy) MG 0.40 6. Georg Tostching (Austria) Polti s.t. 7. Alex Zuelle (Switzerland) ONCE 0.42 8. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spain) Banesto 9. Marcos Serrano (Spain) Kelme 10. Fernando Escartin (Spain) Kelme all s.t. 11. Andrea Peron (Italy) Motorola 1:10 12. Daniel Clavero (Spain) MX Onda s.t. 13. Mauro Gianetti (Switzerland) Polti 1:38 14. Kai Hundertmark (Germany) Telekom 2:29 15. Massimo Apollonio (Italy) Scrigno 16. Daniele Nardello (Italy) Mapei 17. Melchor Mauri (Spain) ONCE 18. Javier Mauleon (Spain) Mapei 19. Fabian Jeker (Switzerland) Lotus 20. Bobby Julich (U.S.) Motorola all s.t. .. 27. Peter Meinert (Den) 3:14 .. 29. Claus Moller (Den) 3:14 .. 40. Neil Stephen (Aus) 5:19 .. 63. Bo Hamburger (Den) 11:52 64. Lars Johnsen (Nor) 11:52 .. 88. Marcel Wust (Ger) 22:35 .. 109. Kevin Livingston (USA) 22:35 110. William Chann McRae (USA) 22:35 111. Stephen Hodge (Aus) 22:35
1. Zuelle 76.44.45 2. Jalabert 1.10 3. Dufaux 5:17 4. Pistore 7:12 5. Tostching 8:34 6. Rominger 8:51 7. Faustini 9:09 8. Davide Rebellin (Italy) Polti 9:42 9. Mauri 10:32 10. Julich 12:47 11. Peron 13:05 12. Stephens 13:57 13. Clavero 15:02 14. Escartin 15:20 15. Serrano 15:28 16. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spain) ONCE 15:42 17. Jimenez 15:50 18. Massimo Apollonio (Italy) Scrigno 16.32 19. Vladislav Bobrik (Russia) Gewiss 16:52 20. Gianetti 17:02 .. 24. Peter Meinert (Den) 22:42 .. 55. Claus Moller (Den) 55:46 .. 57. Bo Hamburger (Den) 58:16 .. 69. Kevin Livingston (USA) 1:17:38 .. 81. Stephen Hodge (Aus) 1:34:48 .. 105. Lars Johnsen (Nor) 1:59:59 .. 111. William Chann McRae (USA) 2:03:06
Zuelle had to be helped from his bike after failing to match the searing pace set by team mate Oliverio Rincon, who raced away to victory in impressive style.
Zuelle was left several seconds adrift by team mate Laurent Jalabert and fellow Swiss rider Laurent Dufaux, who both picked up bonus time after following Rincon home.
Jalabert gained a provisional 18 seconds in the overall classification, leaving him one minute 10 seconds behind Zuelle, while Dufaux is still over four minutes further back after gaining nine seconds on the leader.
Zuelle was still short of breath five minutes after finishing the climb, which ended at nearly 2,000 metres.
``It's not over until Madrid,'' said Zuelle, who had looked in complete control in previous mountain finishes.
As in the previous stages, most of the leading riders arrived at the final climb together, but were split as Rincon made his move five kilometres from home.
With Zuelle wilting, Jalabert protected his team's interests by sticking close to a dangerous-looking Dufaux.
``I preferred to keep my strength for later, a few seconds now doesn't mean very much. I still have to fight off people like Rominger for my place on the winner's podium,'' said Dufaux.
Tony Rominger saw his chances of winning a fourth consecutive Vuelta all but disappear after losing nearly eight minutes in the third stage.
But the Swiss rider retained a good chance of closing the three and a half minute gap to take third place, and again looked strong on Tuesday when he came in fourth, a provisional 38 seconds behind Rincon and one behind Jalabert and Dufaux.
With Jalabert already reconciled to letting his fellow ONCE rider take the honours, Zuelle must remain firm favourite for the overall crown despite his problems.
The riders are likely to take Wednesday's straightforward 222-km stage from Benasque to Zaragoza easily, before facing the last mountain sections of the Vuelta on Thursday and Friday.
The race concludes with Saturday's time-trial and the largely flat final stage in Madrid on Sunday.