Vuelta a Espana: Chris Froome stays in hunt as Bouhanni wins

Chris Froome remains in the hunt for victory at the Vuelta a Espana after maintaining his 20-second gap to leader Alejandro Valverde after stage eight.

All of the leading riders on the 207km ride from Baeza to Albacete completed the stage in the same time as the winner, Nacer Bouhanni of France.

As a result there was no change in the general classification, with Valverde 15 seconds clear of Nairo Quintana.

Alberto Contador is third, 18 seconds down, with Froome two seconds back.

Briton Froome crashed on Friday's seventh stage - requiring a bike change and medical treatment - but the Team Sky rider enjoyed a clear ride on Saturday as the longest stage of the race passed off amid blustery winds but little in the way of drama.

"I'm just glad to get through that one and into the mountains tomorrow," Froome said. "We've still got a lot of racing to come and a lot of climbing to do. It's going to be a full-on race."

FDJ.fr rider Bouhanni, also victorious on stage two, stoked a little controversy when he appeared to cut across Australia's Michael Matthews on the run to the line, but was nevertheless a deserving winner after four hours and 29 minutes of racing.

"The last 50 kilometres were very, very long - it was a very fast pace," said Bouhanni.

The race returns to the mountains on Sunday for the 185km ninth stage from Carboneras de Guadazon to Aramon Valdelinares.

Stage eight results:

1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra/FDJ.fr) 4:29:00"

2. Michael Matthews (Aus/Orica) same time

3. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale)

4. John Degenkolb (Ger/Giant)

5. Greg Henderson (Nzl/Lotto)

6. Robert Wagner (Ger/Belkin)

7. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita/Team MTN)

8. Roberto Ferrari (Ita/Lampre)

9. Tom Boonen (Bel/Omega Pharma-Quick-Step)

10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel/Trek)

Overall classification after stage eight:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) 31:21:20"

2. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +15"

3. Alberto Contador (Spa/Tinkoff-Saxo) +18"

4. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +20"

5. Esteban Chaves (Col/Orica) +41"

6. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa/Katusha) +45"

7. Robert Gesink (NED/Belkin) +55"

8. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +58"

9. Warren Barguil (Fra/Giant) +1:02"

10. Wilco Kelderman (NED/Belkin) +1:06"