Briton Froome, who had bloody right knee and left elbow and hip pain from his crash in stage 12, found himself around the back of the red jersey group for large chunks of the stage, but withstood late attacks from Contador and Esteban Chaves to finish along with Nibali.
Froome had terrible memories of last year's Vuelta stage 15, when Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and eventual victor Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked from the starting gun, leaving the now four-time Tour de France victor isolated from his team and wrecking his bid to win the overall race.
"As soon as the breakaway went the guys went up to the front and they basically controlled the race, nearly from the start to finish, so hats off to them".
"I'm delighted to have won in Calar Alto and here", said Lopez. "It is great to take the win after our team controlled the race really well all day". "As a team we deserve it because we've been active". Zakarin and Kelderman are third and fourth in the general classification but trail Froome by more than two minutes.
Lopez followed an attack by Alberto Contador away from the group of general classification favourites and then reeled in Britain's Adam Yates, who had attacked 25km out in search of his first Grand Tour win.
"Sleep all day", confessed Froome when asked of his plans for the rest day.
Froome, seeking to become only the third rider to win the Tour de France and Vuelta in the same year, countered the move by his closest rival, Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, on the final climb and widened his advantage over him by six seconds.
"I'm just grateful to be in this position".
"I still had Gracie Elvin and Sarah Roy with me at the finish to keep me safe after Georgia Williams and Jess Allen did all of the early work".