John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) claimed his third stage victory of the Vuelta a Espana after outsprinting Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) on the Motorland Aragón motor racing circuit in Alcañiz.
Team Sky executed a well organised leadout for Ben Swift but the Briton was swamped on the finishing straight and was forced to settle for tenth.
And it was 23-year-old Degenkolb, who was also victorious on stages two and five, who crossed the line first ahead of Viviani and Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Victory helped Degenkolb extend his lead in the points classification, with the German now on 76 points, with second placed Viviani on 47 points.
Pablo Lechuga (Andalucia), Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) formed the day’s break early on the 164km stage and stayed away before being caught with 15km remaining.
A crash in the final ten kilometres brought down a number of riders but the main contenders for the stage win, and those vying for overall victory, including race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), who continues to lead Chris Froome (Team Sky) by ten seconds, stayed out of trouble.
Team Sky took up the pace making duties as the race moved onto the finishing circuit at Motorland Aragón, with Juan Antonio Flecha, British national champion Ian Stannard and Froome all working on behalf of swift.
The 24-year-old, world scratch race champion on the track, launched his sprint from the wheel of Froome but failed to make an impact, with Degenkolb underlining his status as the fastest man in the race.
Vuelta a Espana stage seven – result
1) John Degenkolb (GER) – Argos-Shimano 3:48:30
2) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale
3) Allan Davis (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
4) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ-BigMat
5) Daniele Bennati (ITA) – Radioshack-Nissan-Trek
6) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol
7) Dennis Van Winden (NED) – Rabobank
8) Jose Joaquin Rojas (SPA) – Movistar
9) Lloyd Mondory (FRA) – Ag2r La Mondiale
10) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
1) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha 25:53:04 hours
2) Christopher Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +10″
3) Alberto Contador (SPA) – SaxoBank-Tinkoff +36″
4) Robert Gesink (NED) – Rabobank +54″
5) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar
6) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Ag2r La Mondiale +1’04”
7) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Rabobank +1’12”
8) Daniel Moreno (SPA) – Katusha +1’17”
9) Juan Jose Cobo (SPA) – Movistar +1’37”
10) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky +1’39”