(CNN) -- German cyclist Andre Greipel claimed his third stage victory of the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday, while Alejandro Valverde retained the leader's jersey after finishing in the pack.
Andre Greipel celebrates after coming home first in a sprint finish to Tuesday's 16th stage in Spain.
Greipel completed the 170-kilometer 16th stage from Cordoba to Puertollano in a time of four hours, 50 minutes and 44 seconds as he surged clear of a massed bunch of a riders in a sprint finish.
The 27-year-old Team Columbia rider headed off second-placed Frenchman William Bonnet of BBOX Bouygues Telecom, with Italian Daniele Bennati of Liquidations third.
Greipel, who won the fourth and fifth stages of the three-week race and has three other top-five finishes, is still more than two hours behind gold jersey wearer Valverde in 87th place.
The Spaniard, who rides for the Caisse D'Epargne team, was given 31st place as he retained his 31-second lead over nearest challenger Robert Gelsink of Radobank on day that saw no changes in the top-10 standings.
Third-placed Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi is one minute and 10 seconds behind Valverde's overall time.
"We were taking it easy, not expending too much energy, but the truth is that at the finish line we had been on our bicycles for five hours riding over a total of more than 2,500 metes of uneven land," Valverde told the race's official Web site.
"Theoretically, it was a flat stage, but in practice we were going uphill and downhill a lot. We expect more of the same from tomorrow's stage, a day with a mass sprint finish, but it will be a different story starting on Thursday. During those three days, we will decide this year's Vuelta."
Wednesday's 17th stage is a 193km ride from Ciudad Real to Talavera de la Reina.