Matthews retains Vuelta lead

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Matthews retains Vuelta lead

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Michael Matthews of the Orica Greenedge team retained the Tour of Spain’s leader’s red jersey after a third place finish on stage four.

In searing temperatures that hit 40 degrees celcius the peloton made their way north on a 164.7km trek to Córdoba.

A four-man break was whittled down to three after the first climb of the day.

Spaniard Amets Txurruka burst out of the fast approaching bunch to bridge the gap on the remaining trio and then attacked them with Frenchman Jimmy Engoulvent on his wheel.

After 130 kilometres of racing the break was over and despite another one forming soon after all were together again inside the final 10 kilometres.

With 200 metres to the line Giant-Shimano’s German rider John Degenkolb unleashed a furious sprint to take the stage win by several bike lengths as most of his rivals wilted in the heat.

Spaniard Vicente Reynes celebrated second place on the day while Matthews crossed over in third.

Australian Matthews extended his overall lead to eight seconds over Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana of Colombia while Spain’s Alejandro Valverde is third at 15 seconds.