Zaballa, who started the day sixth at 1:44 back, dropped overnight leader Fabio Duarte (Café de Colombia) after topping out on the first-category Alto de San Lorenzo with 30km to go. Duarte was defending well with a group of four leaders after the San Lorenzo climb completely broke apart the peloton.
Zaballa caught the leaders on the harrowing descent and attacked en route toward the day’s final climb at the Cat. 1 Tenebredo climb with 20km to go. Zaballa held a one-minute gap over the short but steep final summit and drove it home alone for the victory as Duarte desperately chased alone. Ezequiel Mosquera (Xacobeo-Galicia) gave chase and topped the Tenebredo climb at one minute in arrears while Duarte was more than three minutes back.
Zaballa – whose name was linked to the Operación Puerto doping scandal in 2006 – crossed the line 1:36 ahead of Mosquera and 2:22 ahead of Pasquale Mute (Miche). Duarte came through with a group at 2:29 back, finishing ninth.
With the dramatic attack, Zaballa claimed victory, knocking Duarte into second at 55 seconds back, with Beñat Intxausti (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in third at 1:14 back.