FDJ.fr sprinter Nacer Bouhanni won stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana in Albacete on Saturday, with Movistar Team 's Alejandro Valverde retaining the red leader's jersey.
Frenchman Bouhanni held off a late burst by Team Giant-Shimano's John Degenkolb and then edged Orica-GreenEdge rider Michael Matthews by a wheel to secure his second stage victory.
"I had good legs today," Bouhanni said on www.velonews.competitor.com after crossing the line first on the 207kilometre route from Baeza to Albacete.
"I was a bit surprised I could win. I went early, because I did not want to get boxed in.
"It was a hard stage, very nervous when the bunch started to split up. My team did a great job to help me stay in good position."
Lampre-Merida's Elia Favilli and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA's Javier Aramendia formed a two-man breakaway and were six minutes up at one point before being reeled in with less than 40 kilometres remaining.
The riders split into groups in the final 25km, with Valverde, Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) among the front pack.
More and more riders gradually joined the leaders, leading to a group of around 50 riders in contention in the final straight.
Bouhanni broke first, with around 300 metres left, and ended up pipping Matthews on the line, with Cannondale's Peter Sagan third and Degenkolb fourth.
Valverde remained top of the general classification, 15secs ahead of Movistar team-mate Nairo Quintana and 18secs clear of Contador.