John Degenkolb Powers to Fourth Stage Win in 2012 Vuelta a Espana
Team Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain kept the overall lead on the eve of a crucial time trial.
The German rider outsprinted FDJ-Big Mat's Nacer Bouhanni of France and Italian Daniele Bennati of Team RadioShack-Nissan to finish the 118-mile leg in 4 hours, 47 minutes, 28 seconds.
"The sprint was really hard and the final (part) was just (a fight)," a proud Degenkolb commented after being celebrated on the podium. "The stage in general was not that hard, a small group took charge and we controlled the race the whole day."
There were no changes to the overall leading group after the ride through the western province of Galicia following the first rest day in the three-week race.
Rodriguez maintained his 53-second advantage over Team Sky Procycling's Christopher Froome of Great Britain. Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank's Alberto Contador is 1 minute behind, while fellow Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of the Movistar team is 1:07 back.
"It was a comfortable day, although there were unexpected moments that worried us, like when I had a flat and had to change my bike," Contador explained. "But I recovered to save my day."
"I'm really looking forward to the time trial, I know the route so let's see how it turns out. There will be changes to the standings. All four of us all have options of coming out on top."
Contador and Froome are the favorites for the individual time trial that takes place tomorrow and is expected to be key in deciding the race winner.
The 39.4-kilometer time trial from Cambados to Pontevedra may also suit Rodriguez as it is not a flat course, but features a 10-kilometer climb up a category-3 hilltop to Monte Castrove.
"The route is not bad, it's pretty tough. There's no doubt that tomorrow is going to be a very tough day for me," commented Rodriguez, who finished runner-up at the Giro d'Italia in May after being overtaken in the time trial on the final day.
"It wouldn't be such a bad result to lose a minute, more or less, tomorrow as I could still fight to keep the leader's jersey."
Rodriguez has an overall time of 39 hours, 32 minutes, 23 seconds.
The 21-stage Vuelta a Espana ends on September 9 in the Spanish capital Madrid.
Watch video highlights from all stages of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana in our videos section (U.S. only - due to geo broadcast rights restrictions).