Team Sky's Christopher Froome remained 13 seconds off Vuelta a Espana leader Juan Jose Cobo after the 18th stage this afternoon.

Froome and home favourite Cobo (Geox-TMC) crossed the line at the end of the 174.6 kilometres stage from Solares to Noja in the peloton as Italy's Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre - ISD) took the victory.

The peloton finished seven minutes behind the leaders as the top of the general classification remained unchanged with three stages to go.

Cobo tracked Froome, who won yesterday's 17th stage to close the gap, in case of a split at the finale.

Bradley Wiggins, who all but dropped out of contention following a disappointing ride yesterday, stayed one minute 41 seconds behind Cobo in third place ahead of Holland's Bauke Mollema (Rabobank).

Cobo took the yellow jersey after the 15th stage and will look to keep hold of it in tomorrow's 158km route to Bilbao.

Daniel Martin finished 34th, with Nicolas Roche concluding in 43rd position in stage 18.

Martin stays in 14th spot overall, while Roche drops a place to 18th.