Tim Wellens won the fifth stage of the Vuelta a España ©Getty Images

Tim Wellens of Belgium emerged victorious after a three-way sprint to the line brought stage five of the Vuelta a España to an exciting end in Sabiñánigo.

There was little drama on the hills during the 184-kilometre ride from Huesca to Sabiñánigo, with few moves made.

Lotto Soudal's Wellens, Guillaume Martin of France and Thymen Arensman of The Netherlands led a three-man breakaway, and ended up finishing more than two minutes ahead of the chasing pack.

Arensman of Sunweb made the first attack, followed by Wellens and eventually Cofidis' Martin - however the Dutch rider faltered as the Wellens powered home.

Wellens crossed the line in 4 hours 19min 25sec, with Martin four seconds off the pace and Arensman 12 back.

Tour de France runner-up and overall Vuelta a España leader Primož Roglič of Slovenia finished fourth, 2:13 behind the stage winner.

Ireland's Dan Martin, second in the general classification, was given the same time, but came close to having his campaign ruined after crashing close to the finish along with Spain's Ion Izagirre.

Luckily for the Israel Start-Up Nation rider, he was within 3km of the finish, allowing him to take the same finishing time as the rest of the main group he was a part of.

The Irishman trails Roglič by five seconds, and seemingly crossed the line unscathed.

Ecuador's Richard Carapaz, winner of last year's Giro d'Italia, is 13 seconds behind the red jersey.

"It feels super good," Wellens said.

"I had a difficult period and I needed a long time to find my good legs - I was a little bit scared coming to the Vuelta but I am now super happy with the victory.

"It was the goal of the team to have minimum one victory in the Vuelta and it is super nice that is has come so early.

"Now, the next two weeks are without stress.

"The start was difficult, we went full gas for two hours and then I was lucky enough to be in the first group.

"We were not riding super good because there were two riders that were up in the general classification.

"Then we went away with two and then three and we rode good together.

"I think that all three were at the same level, but I had the kick at the end to take me to victory."

Stage six will be the first mountain stage of this year's race, starting in border town Biescas and finishing with a climb to the Aramón Formigal ski station.

It was changed to avoid the peloton entering France because of the escalating health crisis in France.