Rigoberto Uran held off Quentin Pacher and Jesus Herrada in a thrilling sprint finish to win stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana as overall leader Remco Evenepoel maintained his advantage and edged closer to a maiden Grand Tour title.

Herrada of Cofidis looked set to take the win with under a kilometre to go before EF Education-EasyPost's Uran chased him down with 200m left to claim his first Grand Tour stage victory since 2017.

The Colombian has now won a stage in each of cycling's three Grand Tours - the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta.

"It's beautiful to win in the Vuelta. I've been looking for this for several years because I'd already won at the Tour and the Giro," said Uran after coming out on top in the 162.3km ride from Aracena to Monasterio de Tentudia.

"I was (up) against some quick riders, I had to preserve some energy to ride against people like (Marc) Soler. At 300m to go, I said 'I have to go now, it's now or never.' This win shows that we always have to believe and fight."

Back in the peloton, Evenepoel never looked like relinquishing his red jersey despite a late surge from Enric Mas as the Belgian cashed in on the absence of main rival Primoz Roglic who had been in second place.

Roglic, bidding for a fourth straight Vuelta crown, withdrew from the race following a heavy crash on the home stretch of Tuesday's stage 16.

"Pretty tough, it was not easy at all. Especially the run-in was really nervous and also a big road going quite steep," said Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl's Evenepoel, who leads Mas of Movistar by just over two minutes in the general classification.

"You know when it's a summit finish, you can always expect attacks, no matter who it is. I think it was not an easy final at all, the last 5km were pretty steep."

The riders tackle the mountains again on Thursday in a 192km journey from Trujillo to Alto de Piornal.