Vuelta a Espana: Degenkolb wins fourth stage, Matthews in red

Australian rider Michael Matthews remains the overall leader of the Vuelta a Espana after Germany's John Degenkolb won the fourth stage.

Degenkolb, 25, out-sprinted Spaniard Vicente Reynes with Matthews third in the 164.7km stage from Mairena del Alcor to Cordoba.

Matthews, 23, took the overall lead on Monday after winning the third stage.

Race favourite Nairo Quintana is eight seconds back, while Britain's Chris Froome trails by 35 seconds.

Two-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador is 27 seconds behind the leader.

In energy-sapping heat several sprinters fell away earlier in the day, but Degenkolb was well protected by his Giant-Shimano team-mates, who moved to the front after the second of two big climbs with a kilometre to go.

IAM's Reynes made a break for the line, but Degenkolb covered his move before powering clear of the peloton to win by a couple of bike lengths.

Team Sky leader Froome moved up two places to 15th overall after finishing in the lead group.

Wednesday's fifth stage is a 180km ride from Priego de Cordoba to Ronda.

Stage four results:

1. John Degenkolb (Ger/Giant) 4:02:55"

2. Vicente Reynes (Spa/IAM Cycling) ST

3. Michael Matthews (Aus/Orica)

4. Damiano Caruso (Ita/Cannondale)

5. Daniel Martin (Ire/Garmin)

6. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus/Katusha)

7. Lloyd Mondory (Fra/AG2R)

8. Valerio Conti (Ita/Lampre)

9. Bob Jungels (Lux/Trek)

10. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana)

Selected:

24. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky)

Overall classifications after stage four:

1. Michael Matthews (Aus/Orica) 13:30:44"

2. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +8"

3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +15"

4. Rigoberto Uran (Col/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) +19"

5. Damiano Caruso (Ita/Cannondale) +21"

6. Esteban Chaves (Col/Orica)

7. George Bennett (NZ/Cannondale) +24"

8. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa/Trek)

9. Alberto Contador (Spa/Tinkoff - Saxo) +27"

10. Wilco Kelderman (NL/Belkin)

Selected:

15. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +35"