The Spaniard hit the deck with a little over 100km to go on Thursday, in a crash that also involved the eventual stage winner Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Television cameras did not capture the fall itself, but soon focused in on the Caja Rural rider as he lay on his back on the tarmac. His helmet was visibly broken and he looked in such a bad way that it appeared his Vuelta was over.
However, the 26-year-old eventually picked himself up, remounted, and made his way back to the peloton with a grimace. He completed the remaining 65km and finished the stage in 117th position.
"The bad news of the day was the heavy crash of Héctor Sáez due to a bidon in the middle of the road. It was a hard impact in which his helmet prevented the worst," the Caja Rural team said.
"The Albacete rider was able to get going again and finish the day, despite suffering from abrasions to his shoulder. We'll see how it progresses."
A team director later brandished the broken helmet from the window of the team car. It was clear it saved the rider from a more serious injury but it also raised questions over whether the rider was fit to continue after taking such an impact on his head.
The dangers of head injuries in cycling were again thrown into the spotlight this summer when Romain Bardet hit his head in a crash at the Tour de France and rode on, only to be later pulled from the race with concussion.
Caja Rural did not confirm whether or not Sáez had been checked for concussion. He was attended to by race doctors at the time of the crash, who removed his helmet and protected his neck before he was encouraged to sit up. After another minute or so he was given a new helmet and bike and rode on to the finish.
🏁 74 km a meta | Así ha quedado el casco de Héctor Sáez 🚴♀️ El corredor de @CajaRural_RGA se ha caído en el kilómetro 106 #️⃣ Comenta con #VueltaRTVE29o🔴 DIRECTO MULTISEÑAL: https://t.co/NdGZMm773P pic.twitter.com/KdEQlraxe0October 29, 2020
🏁106 km a meta | 💥VAYA CAÍDA DE HÉCTOR SÁEZ💥🤕El corredor de Caja rural se duele en el suelo con el casco rotoDIRECTO MULTISEÑAL: https://t.co/NdGZMm773P#LaVuelta2020 #VueltaRTVE29o pic.twitter.com/JBNZFDujjJOctober 29, 2020