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Vuelta a Espana stage 18 highlights - Video

Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-BikeExchange) wins Vuelta a Espana stage 18

Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-BikeExchange) wins Vuelta a Espana stage 18 (Image credit: Tim de Waele/

This 191km stage from Requena to Gandía was advertised as a day for the sprinters and the Vuelta a Espana peloton delivered, although Orica-BikeExchange's winner Magnus Cort Nielsen wasn't among the names at the top of the list when speaking about the pre-race favourites.

The 23-year-old Dane, who signed with the Australian team in 2015, fought his way past better-known fastmen like Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin), Jempy Drucker (BMC Racing) and Daniel Bennatti (Tinkoff), however, to take his first Grand Tour state win and the biggest victory of his career to date.

The day started with a group of five escapees who slipped away from the peloton just 6km into the stage and then averaged more than 40km/h in the first hour of racing. Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo), Quentin Jaurégui (AG2R-La Mondiale), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida) and Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal) built a gap of 4:30 after just 20km. The gap jumped to six minutes before the sprinters' teams took interest and began the chase in earnest, reeling the last of the leaders back with 11km to go, setting up the bunch sprint with the Coast along Gandía in sight.