Sam Bennett came agonisingly close to claiming a third stage at this year's Vuelta a Espana on Wednesday afternoon, with the Irishman only denied in the final 100 metres by a perfectly-timed Philippe Gilbert surge.

It was another impressive showing from sprint specialist Bennett. 

The 219.6km flat course - the longest in this year's race - from Aranda del Duero to Guadalajara was marked by strong crosswinds, but competitors still clocked a remarkable 50.6kph average speed. 

The wind saw the sizeable breakaway gain a huge advantage over the main peloton in this 17th stage, one which they were unable to claw back as they finished five and a half minutes down on stage winner Gilbert.

Bora-Hansgrohe rider Bennett crossed the line in second, with Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) finishing best of the rest. 

Bennett is second in the points classification on 94 points, with Team Jumbo-Visma's Primos Roglic leading on 117 points. 

Race leader Roglic missed the decisive split, along with Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), which allowed Nairo Quintana to move up to second overall, with Valverde now third. Bennett is 140th overall. 

The Vuelta continues on Thursday with the 177.5km stage from Comunidad de Madrid to Becerril de la Sierra.