Peter Sagan sprinted to his second stage victory of the Vuelta a Espana with a well-timed burst of pace on stage 12.
The Liquigas rider held off German youngster John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad) by a bike-length on the line in Pontevedra despite the lack of a lead-out train.
Daniele Bennati (Leopard Trek) rounded out the podium positions in third after a strong lead-out by team-mate Fabian Cancellara onto the narrow closing straight.
The victory marked the 13th success of the season for the Slovakian with the bunch finish also allowing race leader Bradley Wiggins to maintain his seven-second advantage at the top of the standings.
Despite sprinters taking top honours there was movement on the overall standings due to two splits in the bunch at the line.
Frederik Kessiakoff (Astana) took advantage of a fast finish to steal back five seconds on most of his rivals, infiltrating the front group to move up to third overall on the leaderboard, nine seconds off the red jersey.
Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) was another to gain time on the provisional standings while Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), despite taking a second back on Wiggins, dropped from third to fourth overall as the general classification tightened up yet again.
Three riders got away in the early going with Luis Mate (Cofidis), Jose Luis Roldan (Andalucia) and Adam Hansen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) forging clear before being joined by Ruslan Pidgornyy (Vacansoleil) to make up the day’s escapees.
The quartet headed out to just over nine minutes before the break began to be reeled back in on the tough Galician roads.
A rare opportunity for the sprinters’ teams to prosper saw a number of squads lend a hand to Team Sky in pacing the front of the peloton, with a token man helping from Lampre, Skil-Shimano and Leopard Trek.
As the peloton headed through the finish area for the first time Garmin-Cervelo and HTC-Highroad also made their presence felt at the front as the gap began to tumble.
Hansen attacked out of the break on the run for home in a similar move to the one he attempted on stage two of the race, yet was quickly overhauled and left behind by the remnants of the breakaway after a long day in the saddle.
The break was finally caught with 6km to go which saw Santo Anza (Vacansoleil) immediately jumped out of the bunch for a short-lived move.
Race leader Wiggins spent the day towards the front of the bunch out of trouble with the team at his side and became only the second man in this year’s race to hold the leader’s jersey for more than a single day.