CITTAREALE, Italy -- Alberto Contador won the grueling fourth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race to close the gap on overall leader Michal Kwiatkowski to 16 seconds on Saturday.
The Spaniard showed off his remarkable climbing skills to edge out another overall favorite Nairo Quintana by one second on the tough final ascent. Daniel Moreno was third.
Contador, who recovered from an early puncture, clocked 6 ½ hours on the 244-kilometer (152-mile) leg from Indicatore to Cittareale Selvarotonda -- the toughest stage of the race.
"It's a great win. It gives me confidence and confirms that all the work that I've been doing in the winter is paying off. I'm content to win but the GC is going to be hard to crack. I'll try though," Contador said.
Kwiatkowski crossed 10 seconds behind.
"I'm really happy that I'm still in the leader's jersey," he said. "We expected some big attacks from Contador and Quintana, and they did it. They really pushed me to the limit but I'm really thankful to Wouter Poels and Rigo Urán because they really did a good job for me. They set a good tempo on the last climb and I didn't lose so much time."
Roman Kreuziger set a furious pace on the long final climb along with Benat Intxausti and Stefano Pirazzi and he raced clear with 5 kilometers remaining.
However, with his Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Contador in the chasing group, he sat up.
Contador, who has won all three Grand Tours, kicked with 200 meters remaining for his second win of the season.
Sunday's stage 5 is a 192 km leg from Amatrice to Guardiagrele.
The race ends on Tuesday with an individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Many riders are using the race as a warm-up for the Milan-San Remo classic on March 23.