The Tour Take | Vuelta a Espana Stage 8

 Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

Photo: Twila Federica Muzzi

The Steps

1st – Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar)

2nd – Peter Sagan (Bora - hansgrohe)

3rd – Danny Van Poppel (Team LottoNL-Jumbo)

 

The Jerseys

Red - Rudy Mollard (Groupama-FDJ)

Green - Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)

Polka Dot - Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)

 

The Aussies

18th - Nick Schultz

35th - Jack Haig

45th - Jay McCarthy

64th - Jai HIndley

117th - Simon Clarke

127th - Damien Howson

128th - Richie Porte

129th - Michael Storer

132nd - Alex Edmondson

150th - Rohan Dennis

156th - Mitchell Docker

 

The GC

1st - Rudy Mollard (Groupama - FDJ)

2nd - Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) @ 0:37

3rd - Emanuel Buchmann (Bora - hansgrohe) @ 0:48

4th - Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT) @ 0:51

5th - Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) @ 0:59

6th - Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) @ 1:06

8th - Nairo Quintana (Team Movistar) @ 1:14

9th - Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 1:18

11th - George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 1:26

12th - Miguel Angel Lopez (Team Astana) 1:27

14th - Rigoberto Uran (Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) @ 1:29

17th - Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) @ 2:50

18th - Thibaut Pinot (Groupama - FDJ) @ 3:08

 

The Route

Stage 8 was as flat as it gets at La Vuelta, with a just the one categorised climb. On the 195km route from Linares to Almaden, the peloton climbed the Alto de Espanares (10km @ 3.6%). The finish, however, was a little testy, with an uncategorized climb coming in the final 10km (2km @ 4% with 6km to go), and then a sharp rise to the line.

 

The Key Point

Today’s winner was going to require more versatility than your average sprinter can provide, with the uncategorized climb at 6km to go, and then the rise to the line. After passing  under the flame rouge the riders make a hairpin turn around a roundabout, then start to head uphill. They'll round another hairpin with 300m to go as the gradient ramps up more, and then it continues all the way to the line.

 

The Break

A three-man break went away, with Hector Saez, Jorge Cubedo and Tiago Machado. They went away early and were given a huge gap, as it reached over 12 minutes at the 120km to go point. Bora, FDJ and Cofidis all pitched in with the chasing, and that was surprising given the difficulty of the finale. The gap tumbled quickly when they did, but it wasnt until around 6km to go when they were caught.

 

The Finish

Into the final kilometres and Bore – hansgrohe were stringing out the pack; by the final kilometre there were barely 50 riders left, and few sprinters except Sagan.

As the pack rounded the final corners, Ivan Cortina attacked; a patient Sagan held his nerve, as the tough incline sapped the legs. With 150m to go he finally came around the outside, however even that was too early; Alejandro Valverde had kicked late to take the win

 

The Votes

3 - Alejandro Valverde. The Green Bullet came late, and was perfect, taking his second stage win of this year's race 

2 – Peter Sagan. We've seen that Sagan's form is on the up, and today was his best chance yet. He just went early.

1 – Ivan Cortina. Cortina's move was bold. Kudos for trying

Leaders: Valverde (6), Mate (4), Bouhanni, Clarke, Dennis, Gallopin, King, Kwiatkowski,  Vivianni, (3), De Plus, Herrada, Mollard, Sagan, S Yates, (2), Campenaerts, Cortina, Mollema, Porte, Postlberger, Rolland, Woods (1), De Gendt (-1)

The Next Stage

Stage 9 kicks off the second part of La Vuelta – the climbing part. A 200km stage from Talavera de la Reina to La Covatilla, with four categorised climbs. The Cat 1 Puerto del Pico (15.3km @ 5.6) represents the main challenge in the opening part of the stage, though the peloton will also cross two more passes before heading down into a long valley. They’ll then head for the finishing climb, the Alto de la Covatilla.

The Alto de la Covatilla is 12.5km @ 6.5%, however it's much more difficult than that in reality. That average gradient hides that the final 8km average nearly 9%, while the climb’s also preceded by a 9km false flat.

 

The Pick

Simon Yates is always in good form at the start of a grand tour (as he showed on Stage 4), and he’ll be one of the main aggressors here.

See you back at the social club,

Josh

 

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