Vuelta a Espana leader Chris Froome admits he faces a battle to hold on to the red jersey after seeing his advantage slashed following multiple crashes on stage 12.
Froome tumbled twice on the final descent to Antequera, allowing his closest challenger Vincenzo Nibali to gain 20 seconds and three-time winner Alberto Contador 42 seconds.
The Briton escaped with only minor injuries and leads Nibali by 59 seconds in the general classification with nine stages remaining. Pole Tomasz Marczynski comfortably won the stage, his second of the race.
“It’s never good to lose time, but it’s good that it’s 20 seconds and not one minute,” said the Team Sky rider, who is bidding to become only the third man to win the Vuelta and Tour de France in the same year.
“I’m just grateful I’m not more seriously injured and just lost a bit of skin. It could have been much worse, its never a situation you’d want to be in but things happen in bike racing.”
Irish team Aqua Blue Sport, meanwhile, continued their participation in the Vuelta despite their bus being damaged overnight in a suspected arson attack in Almeria.