Primoz Roglic, Alejandro Valverde and Tadej Pogacar appeared to escape a late crash largely unscathed, as Sam Bennett sprinted to victory.
Sam Bennett sprinted to victory on stage 14 of the Vuelta a Espana as general classification challengers Alejandro Valverde and Tadej Pogacar were caught up in crash in the final kilometre.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Bennett took his second stage win of the race after a huge pile-up saw numerous riders fall towards the end of the 188km ride from San Vicente de la Barquera to Oviedo on Saturday.
Red jersey holder Primoz Roglic was held up but did not appear to hit the deck and retained his advantage in the general classification over Valverde and Pogacar, who both went down but seemingly did not sustain any serious injuries.
A group of six riders broke away after just 10km but the pack was back together inside the last 5km of one of few flat stages.
The stage was set for a bunch sprint to the finish line, but the crash put paid to a challenge from anyone in the middle or back of the pack.
Bennett left it late to make his move and made it stick, scoring another victory ahead of two mountain stages that could play a huge role in deciding the winner of La Roja.
The late smash appeared more serious for Luka Mezgec, with Mitchelton-Scott promising updates once he had been checked over by race doctors.
Etapa 14 – Stage 14 | #LaVuelta19
— La Vuelta (@lavuelta) September 7, 2019
Roglic appeared fine when he took to the podium and Valverde suggested he suffered no serious injuries from his fall.
“I fell while almost standing still,” said Valverde. “I don’t think there’s any consequence; my wrist is bothering me a little, but it’s nothing.
“You could see [the crash] coming. It was heating up and everyone wanted to be there.”
Pogacar said: “Suddenly half the group was on the ground and I was among them. I just hope everyone is okay and there’s no serious injuries. I’m okay though, just a few cuts.”
1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 04:28:26
2. Maximiliano Richeze (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +00:00
3. Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) +00:02
4. Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ) +00:05
5. Clement Venturini (AG2R La Mondiale) +00:05
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 53:49:19
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +02:25
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +03:01
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 109
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 86
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 82
King of the Mountains
1. Angel Madrazo (Burgos BH) 32
2. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale) 30
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 25
The climbers will come to the fore again on Sunday, with a 154.4km ride from Tineo to Santuario del Acebo including four category one climbs and a summit finish.