Colombian Esteban Chaves retained the leader's red jersey as Peter Sagan of Slovakia surged to victory in a sprint finish to the Vuelta Espana third stage on Monday.
Tinkoff-Saxo rider Sagan edged out Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni of Cofidis on the line after the 158.4-km leg to Malaga. German John Degenkolb of Giant-Alpecin was third.
The Irish duo of Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin remain in third and fourth place respectively, while Chris Froome, bidding for a rare Tour de France-Vuelta double, also finished with the main group and is eighth overall.
The Team Sky leader is bunched with some of his main rivals including Colombian Nairo Quintana of Movistar, Spanish pair Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Italian Fabio Aru (Astana).
Sunday's second stage won by Chaves was overshadowed by the expulsion from the race of Italian Vincenzo Nibali after he was caught getting a tow from his Astana team car while trying to catch up following a crash.
Nibali, the 2014 Tour de France champion and Vuelta winner in 2010, apologised but blamed Orica-GreenEdge's Australian rider Caleb Ewan for causing the accident with what he called "a crazy, aggressive move".
“There are lots of episodes like this in cycling and especially so after a crash,” Nibali said on his Facebook page.
“What happened . . . happens in every race even if that does mean what I did isn’t right. I should have been punished.”
Ewan denied being the cause of the pile-up.
“I was at the back of the bunch,” he told reporters. “If he has a problem with me or he thinks I did it he should come and clear things up with me first instead of going to the media and saying ‘Caleb did this’.
“I think if you’re going to make a big call like that, saying that someone caused a crash, you should get your story straight first.”
Astana's woes deepened on Monday when Italian rider Paolo Tiralongo, who sustained lacerations to his face in Sunday's crash, was forced to quit the race.
Trek rider Fabian Cancellera of Switzerland, who has been suffering from illness, also pulled out.
Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978) are the only riders to have won the Tour and the Vuelta in the same year.