Tim Wellens won his second Vuelta a España stage on Wednesday, with the defending champion, Primoz Roglic, maintaining his overall lead over Richard Carapaz.
Wellens, who also won the fifth stage, sprinted to victory ahead of Michael Woods and Zdenek Stybar in an unusually fast race that took riders 204km (126 miles) through hilly Galician terrain.
Representing Belgium and the Lotto Soudal team, Wellens dominated the uphill finish after staying in the breakaway group for most of the stage.
The overall leaders finished together in the peloton, crossing the line almost four minutes behind Wellens. Roglic maintained his 39-second lead over Carapaz, entering the final stages of the three-week race. Hugh Carthy stayed third, 47 seconds off the pace.
Thursday’s 15th stage will be the longest of this year’s Vuelta, taking riders 230km through a winding terrain that favours escapes from the front. Wellens said: “It was not easy to win. I had to really fight to get in the breakaway, and then all my companions in the breakaway were really strong riders.
“I knew I had to take the last corner in first position and I felt Woods coming, but suddenly the finish line was there and I crossed first. I knew today suited me very well. Everything was perfect.”
Roglic added: “It was quite a fast and hard stage all the way to the finish line. It was again a good day for us.”