(CNN) -- Australian Simon Gerrans won the 169km 10th stage of the Vuelta Espana as Alejandro Valverde retained the race leader's gold jersey he took from Cadel Evans on Monday.
Gerrans pips Ryder Hesjedal to victory at the end of the 10th stage of the Vuelta to Murcia.
Cervelo rider Gerrans outpaced breakaway companions Ryder Hesjedal, Jakob Fuglsang and Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov, who is returning from a two-year doping ban, in a sprint at the end of the ride from Alicante to Murcia in eastern Spain.
The quartet were among a group of 19 who launched a breakaway early in the stage, building up a lead of more than eight minutes.
They staged their own attack as the race headed into the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo -- a second category climb with a fast descent -- and eventually drew clear to fight out the finish.
The four finished three minutes, 42 seconds ahead of the peleton, which included Valverde, who remains seven seconds ahead of two-time Tour de France runner-up Evans, with Dutchman Robert Gesink 36 seconds behind in third position.
Valverde, 29, is a controversial figure who is currently banned from riding in Italy for two years because of being implicated in the Operation Puerto doping scandal, accusations he fiercely denies.
The Vuelta reaches its halfway point on Wednesday, when the mountainous 11th stage takes the riders 200 kilometers from Murcia to Caravaca de la Cruz.