Viviani sprints to victory in Vuelta a Espana third stage

Elia Viviani won the third stage in a thrilling sprint finish

Elia Viviani won the third stage of the Vuelta a Espana in a sprint finish on Monday as Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski held on to the leader's jersey.

Quick-Step Floors rider Viviani beat fellow Italian Giacomo Nizzolo and world champion Peter Sagan in a tight finish to the 178-kilometre stage from Mijas to Alhaurin de la Torre on the Costa del Sol.

Viviani, who was the hot favourite to win a stage that favoured sprinters, benefited from the support of his teammates who worked to put him in position for the final attack.

Kwiatkowski, one of the star names on Team Sky in the absence of reigning Vuelta champion Chris Froome and Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas, was in the pack and maintained his 14-second lead over Alejandro Valverde.

The 161.4km fourth stage on Tuesday between Velez-Malaga and Sierra de la Alfaguara is the first summit finish and should give comfort to climbers hoping to win the overall race including Movistar rider Nairo Quintana, who is 33sec off the lead, and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scot) who is 37sec back.