Britain’s Chris Froome declared himself satisfied after extending his Vuelta a Espana lead and boosting his bid to achieve a historic Grand Tour double on stage five.
Froome, three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador and Colombian Esteban Chaves finished in the same group, more than four minutes behind stage winner Alexey Lutsenko but ahead of their general classification rivals.
The reigning Tour de France champion now leads the race by 10 seconds from American Tejay van Garderen, having extended his advantage over Fabio Aru, Vincenzo Nibali and Romain Bardet.
“I think if you had said at the beginning of the stage this would be the situation at the finish, I would have definitely have signed to agree to that,” said Froome.
The Team Sky rider is aiming to become the first Briton and only the third man in history to win the Vuelta and the Tour in the same year.
Froome added: “I’m really glad to have come through from the Tour in the shape that I hoped to be in for the start of the Vuelta.”
Orica-Scott’s Chaves is just one second behind Van Garderen in the overall standings, with Irishman Nicholas Roche, also of BMC Racing, a further two seconds adrift and 13 behind Froome.
Nibali trails the red jersey-holder by 36 seconds, Aru by 39, while British brothers Adam and Simon Yates are 50 and 69 seconds off the pace respectively.
Astana rider Lutsenko notched a solo victory, dropping Dimension Data’s Merhawi Kudus on the 3km climb to the Vuelta’s first summit finish in Alcossebre.