Fabio Jakobsen took his second sprint victory at the Vuelta a España on stage eight, powering through in the rush to the line to deny DSM's Alberto Dainese and Alpecin-Fenix's Jasper Philipsen, who had to settle for second and third.
Bora-Hansgrohe's Jordi Meeus and UAE Team Emirates' Juan Sebastián Molano rounded out the top five as Arnaud Démare and Michael Matthews could only manage seventh and eighth.
With Jakobsen's addition of a second victory to his two runner-up placings so far this Spanish Grand Tour, today's win was enough to move him into the green jersey.
It was a fast and nervy final few kilometres to La Manga del Mar Menor, but all stayed upright, and Primož Roglič will take the red jersey into another mountain test tomorrow on stage nine.
How it happened
A day for the sprinters in between two uphill finishes, a makeshift ice bath the order at the start of the stage for Egan Bernal, dunked over his head due to the Spanish heat.
After the neutralised rollout the attacks started in earnest, the wildcard teams obliging as always with Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Aritz Bagues (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) heading up the road.
Immediately, this trio were allowed a gap, gaining more than two minutes over the first 10km, which soon doubled.
Things then settled down over the first hour of racing, and as it ticked under 100km the gap was back down to around the two minute mark, the peloton attentive, Alpecin-Fenix, Deceuninck - Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma sharing the workload.
After lunch for the bunch, the gap came down to a minute and a half with 70km to go, Brit James Knox put to work on the front for Fabio Jakobsen despite his diminutive stature.
Bagues won the intermediate sprint from the break, as behind Arnaud Démare beat Philipsen and Jakobsen to the remainder of the points as the peloton passed through.
Things started hotting up inside the final 50km, the pace ratcheting up a notch, Israel Start-Up Nation’s Davide Cimolai abandoning, as the GC teams moved their leaders up to keep them safe.
Then, crosswinds, Astana taking the initiative and putting the hammer down, the breakaway soon caught and other riders out the back due to the acceleration.
There were soon three groups on the road, Trek-Segafredo bridging the gap between two of them, as 20 stragglers continued to battle before eventually getting back on.
Ineos, Trek, DSM and Groupama-FDJ were at the fore under 20km to go, the speed getting so high that riders started to get shelled out the back.
The peloton tightened up, bunching together as they approached the 10km banner, nervy riders making for nervous viewing.
Under that banner the single carriageway turned to double and the trains fanned across the highway, a relief for the peloton after getting through squeezes in the road without a crash.
8km to go and Astana were back on the front, Ineos on the other side of the road, Bernal in second wheel.
Another kilometre and DSM also came through, followed by Deceuninck - Quick-Step as Alpecin-Fenix also tried to squeeze their way in.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step hit the front, taking the bunch under 5km remaining, soon followed by Groupama-FDJ.
Bora-Hansgrohe then pushed their way through, the road narrowing once more, the GC teams falling away as they passed under the safe mark of 3km to go.
Jetse Bol from Burgos then took a flyer with 2km to the line, UAE Team Emirates closing the gap.
On cue, Deceuninck - Quick-Step came back to the fore under the flamme rouge, Florian Sénéchal hitting the front as things looked to be opening up early as the sprinters waited, waited, waited before Fabio Jakobsen powered through and no-one could match him.
Vuelta a España 2021, stage eight: Santa Pola to La Manga del Mar Menor
1. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, in 3-56-05
2. Alberto Dainese (Ita) DSM, at same time
3. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
4. Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Juan Sebastián Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates
6. Itamar Einhorn (Isr) Israel Start-Up Nation
7. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange
9. Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis, all at same time
General classification after stage eight
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma, in 29-14-40
2. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at eight seconds
3. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 25s
4. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Movistar Team, at 36s
5. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 38s
6. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 41s
7. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious, at 57s
8. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 59s
9. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at 1-06
10. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-22
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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