LAGO DE SANABRIA, Spain -- Michael Matthews of Australia won the fifth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Wednesday and Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall leader's jersey ahead of American rider Christopher Horner.
The 23-year-old Matthews, riding for Orica-Greenedge, won in 4 hours, 28 minutes, 22 seconds, after finishing a sprint ahead of Maximiliano Richeze of Argentina and third-place Gianni Meersman of Belgium, who both had the same time as the Australian after riding 108 miles from Sober to Lago de Sanabria.
"My goal was to arrive to the Vuelta in good form and everything leading up to this point has been a progression to get me to this level," said Matthews.
Matthews, who won two stages in the Tour of Utah this month, dedicated his victory to teammate Wesley Sulzberger, who was ruled out of the race after fracturing his collarbone and elbow during Tuesday's fourth stage.
"I wish him a fast recovery and, yeah, this win is for him," Matthews said.
Although Sulzberger managed to finish the fourth stage, Orica-Greenedge withdrew him from Wednesday's stage that included two Category 3 climbs. The 26-year-old Sulzberger, also from Australia, was hurt in an accident at the foot of the steep Mirador de Ezaro climb but was able to get back on his bike and race the remaining 35 kilometres (21.7 miles) to the finish line.
Astana rider Nibali is three seconds clear of RadioShack-Leopard's Horner.
"I was a bit nervous because it was windy today, but it has gone really well for me," said Nibali. "Things are going well for me and the conditions have been in my favour."
Arnaud Courteille and Juergen Van De Walle broke away from the pack to lead by 25 seconds, but they were unable to stay ahead as they approached the end.
The three-week race ends in Madrid on Sept. 15.