Italy's Daniele Bennati of the RadioShack-Nissan squad ended a run of four straight bunch sprint wins by Germany's John Degenkolb in the Vuelta a Espana with a narrow victory over Britain's Ben Swift.

Spaniard Alberto Contador retained the overall lead with three stages remaining in the race.

At the end of a high-speed, four-hour dash across the plains of northern Spain, Bennati inched ahead of Swift at the end of a drawn-out sprint in Valladolid's city centre. Australia's Allan Davis was third and Degenkolb fifth.

Nicolas Roche was 46th today - 10 seconds behind Bennati - and he is now 12th overall.

Bennati, 31, dedicated his first victory of 2012 to Belgium's Wouter Weylandt, the previous winner of a Vuelta stage in Valladolid in 2008, who was killed in a crash during the 2011 Giro d'Italia, and to a Spanish member of his team's management who has fallen ill.

After Friday's straightforward run from Penafiel to La Lastrilla, Saturday's final mountain-top stage finishes on the summit of the Bola del Mundo.