Australia's Michael Matthews won stage five of the Tour of Spain on Wednesday as Italian Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall lead.

Ireland’s Nicolas Roche finished 16th, but remains third overall, eight seconds off first place. Dan Martin finished 79th today and lies 31st overall.

Matthews came out on top in a sprint finish in Lago de Sanabria, as the Australian edged out Maximiliano Richeze and Gianni Meersman to prevail in four hours 28 minutes 22 seconds.

Victory in the 174.3km stage between Sober and Lago de Sanabria was an improvement on Tuesday's fourth stage, where Matthews finished third.

Arnaud Courteille and Kristof Vandewalle had led the peloton but were caught less than 4km from the finish. World champion Philippe Gilbert also failed with a late attack.

Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall lead at the top of the general classification, after he finished safely in the main peloton

He keeps the red jersey ahead of Chris Horner and Nicolas Roche.

Nibali said he was relieved that after four days of racing in Galicia on technical, narrow roads, the peloton was heading south into more straightforward terrain.

"It's been a very tough opening section of the Vuelta, but I've come through it in good shape and that's what counts," Nibali said.

"I just hope tomorrow, which should be easier, we'll get through equally well."