Germany's John Degenkolb claimed his third sprint victory of the 2014 Vuelta a Espana by winning stage 12 in Logrono.
A 20.8-kilometre circuit was negotiated eight times, totalling 166.4km, and designed for the sprinters, with Vuelta technical director Paco Giner saying "everybody needs to relax".
The sprinters have few opportunities in the brutal tour of Spain and were unlikely to let lone escapee Matthias Krizek (Cannondale) prevail.
The Austrian was caught with 13km to go as the sprinters' teams set to work, but they still had a technical finale, littered with corners, to negotiate.
Dan Martin was 20th and stays in 11th in general classification, while Philip Deignan finished 165th and remains in 60th.
A crash inside the final kilometre split the peloton and took out some of those hoping to bid for the stage as ahead of them only 10 riders contested the sprint.
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) was not among them as Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), who also won in Logrono as one of five wins in 2012, held off the challenge of Belgium's Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to consolidate his lead in the points classification's green jersey.
Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana) was third and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) fourth.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished safely in the pack to retain the race leader's red jersey entering Friday's 188.7km 13th stage is from Belorado to Obregon.
Contador, who was 19th on the day, leads fellow Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 24 seconds, with Briton Chris Froome (Team Sky) a further minute behind in fourth.