Vuelta a Espana: Ben Swift pipped for win as Contador retains lead
Britain's Ben Swift agonisingly missed out on a stage victory in the Vuelta a Espana as Alberto Contador retained the overall lead after stage 18.
The Team Sky rider was well positioned in a sprint finish into Valladolid after the longest stage of the race.
But Italian Daniele Bennati edged him out on the line by a few centimetres to deny the Briton a notable win.
Contador remains on course for a first major victory since returning from a doping ban, with three stages left.
Another long flat stage beckons on Friday ahead of the final mountain stage on Saturday, before the three-week race concludes in Madrid on Sunday.
Contador leads compatriot Alejandro Valverde by one minute and 52 seconds, with the long-time leader Joaquim Rodriguez 2:28 back in third.
Great Britain's Chris Froome, the Tour de France runner-up and Olympic time-trial bronze medallist, remains fourth, 9:40 down on Contador.
Stage 18 results:
1. Daniele Bennati (Ita/Radioshack) 4:17:17
2. Ben Swift (GB/Team Sky) same time
3. Allan Davis (Aus/Orica) same time
4. Lloyd Mondory(Fra/AG2R) same time
5. John Degenkolb (Ger/Argos) same time
Overall standings after 18 stages:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Saxo Bank) 72:25:21"
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +1:52"
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) +2:28"
4. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +9:40"
5. Daniel Moreno (Spa/Katusha) +11:36"
6. Robert Gesink (Ned/Rabobank) +12:02"
7. Laurens ten Dam (Ned/Rabobank) +12:55"
8. Andrew Talansky (US/Garmin) +13:06"
9. Igor Anton (Spa/Euskaltel) +13:49"
10. Benat Intxausti (Spa/Movistar) +14:10"