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Ireland's Sam Bennett timed his sprint finish to perfection as he claimed stage three at the Vuelta

Vuelta a Espana: Sam Bennett wins stage three as Nicolas Roche retains lead

The Irish national champion took the line comfortably ahead of Edward Theuns and Luka Mezgec for his maiden Vuelta stage and fourth Grand Tour stage win.

Bennett's fellow Irishman Nicolas Roche retains the leader's red jersey, remaining two seconds ahead of 2016 Vuelta winner Nairo Quintana.

Sean Kelly is the only previous Irish overall winner of the Vuelta, in 1988.

"It means a lot to get another Grand Tour stage victory," said 28-year-old Bora Hansgrohe rider Bennett, who won three stages at last year's Giro d'Italia.

Defending champion Simon Yates, fellow Britons Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, plus Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and Giro d'Italia winner Richard Carapaz are some of the leading riders not competing in this year's event.

There is another flat stage on Tuesday, a 175.5km run from Cullera to El Puig.

The 21-stage Grand Tour event concludes in Madrid on 15 September.

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