John Degenkolb of Germany sprinted to win the Spanish Vuelta's 17th stage, while Alberto Contador kept the leader's red jersey with four days to go.

Degenkolb edged fellow sprinting experts Michael Matthews and Fabian Cancellara to claim the flat 191km ride from Ortigueira to A Coruna.

It was the fourth stage win at this Vuelta for the Giant-Shimano rider.

"We went all in today, and in the end I was happy to get the win,'' Degenkolb said. "Today, everyone saw that the spirit is very good on our team.''

Contador finished with his nearest challengers, protecting his comfortable lead over Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome. Contador leads Valverde by one minute, 36 seconds, with Froome a further three seconds behind.

"It's certainly going to be very difficult to beat Alberto,'' Froome said.

Thursday's stage is a 157km ride from A Estrada to the second-category Monte Castrove summit.

Riders have another flat course on Friday before Saturday's last mountain stage. The 21-stage race ends with an individual time trial in Santiago de Compostela on Sunday.

Source: AP