Jakobsen joins Philipsen on two stage wins
The Dutch sprinter, Fabio Jakobsen of Deceuninck - Quick-Step, continues to look like he is on top form once again after his horror crash at the Tour of Poland last year, joining Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) on two stage wins at this year's Vuelta a España.
It was a chaotic lead into the final sprint with the road becoming just two lanes wide for the final rapid 10km with both Deceuninck - Quick-Step and Groupama-FDJ controlling the pace in the lead-out but their sprinters were not too well positioned.
However, Jakobsen did manage to surf the wheels and find the right gap to power to his second win ahead of Alberto Dainese (DSM) and Philipsen.
In the final sprint, Jakobsen lost his lead-out man of Florian Sénéchal and so found the wheel of the green jersey, Philipsen at about eight wheels back. They stayed calm, though, and came up with speed as the lead-out men's pace subsided with about 200 metres to go.
This was the last chance for the sprinters until stage 13 in the second week as the focus goes to the general classification, punchers and the breakaway.
All the favourites make it through without issues
It was another nervy flat stage for the general classification favourites to negotiate and fortunately for them, they managed to do exactly that.
Ineos Grenadiers were the main team to keep all their men towards the front in the closing stages with Egan Bernal and Adam Yates both well placed in the closing stages thanks to the powerful riding from Dylan van Baarle and co.
One team that wanted to try something was Astana, with Omar Fraile, Gorka Izagirre and Luis Leon Sanchez all trying to split the bunch in the slight crosswind as they hoped the retake the time lost by their leader, Aleksandr Vlasov, from stage seven's summit finish.
Race leader Primož Roglič's Jumbo-Visma team were sat behind the two riders from Alpecin-Fenix and Deceuninck - Quick-Step for the entire day when the pace was slower, making sure Roglič was safe. But they were crowded out in the final five kilometres with Roglič finishing mid peloton but still safe and holding onto red as the riders now head into the mountains again.
This unusual route for the Vuelta could be putting the GC riders in a bit of limbo with how their climbing legs are with a punchy stage followed by a mountain stage but then a pan flat sprint day before heading back into the mountains, which could put riders out of rhythm.
The invited Spanish teams give some action on a slow day
We can always count on the invited Spanish squads to create some sort of action early on during a flat day with Burgos-BH, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA making up the days break yet again.
While it didn't take much to get into the break on stage eight, it is still important to mention these teams who get into the break not just for potential glory and prize money but also vital exposure for the sponsors.
The day's break was made up of Aritz Bagües of Caja Rural with Mikel Iturria in the bright orange of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Ander Okamia from the plum coloured team of Burgos-BH.
They brought some brief action at the intermediate sprint where Bagües took the intermediate sprint but the main focus with that was for the final few points in the peloton.
Their trip out front ended a lot earlier than expected too, thanks to Astana - Premier Tech attempting to rip the race to pieces in the closing 40km.
Arnaud Démare misses out on sprinting for the win again
Groupama-FDJ came to this year's Vuelta with their full focus on star sprinter Arnaud Démare after a disappointing Tour de France saw the former French champion miss the time cut on the ninth stage of the race.
But, yet again, his good legs seem to be missing as he has only really appeared at the forefront of a mass sprint once and he was beaten quite comfortably to the line by Jakobsen. That was on stage four where his team pulled off the perfect lead-out.
But before and after, Démare has constantly lost his way in the peloton as the race heads to the closing stages.
He sets his lead-out train up and they do their jobs perfectly but unfortunately all that work ends up to be for other riders as their sprinter has slipped back in the bunch.
On stage eight, Démare's lead-out was level alongside Jakobsen's with Jacopo Guarnieri and Ramon Sinkeldam doing a great push for their leader. But once again the Frenchman, who took the most professional wins out of anyone in 2020, had lost his way.
He eventually finished sixth behind Israel Start-Up Nation's Itamar Einhorn and just ahead of Michael Matthews (BikeExchange).
With just two more likely sprint days remaining in the race, Démare is running out of time to get his Grand Tour victory for the 2021 season.
Constant threat of wind continues to make nerves rise
Almost every stage that has been a day for the sprinters or predominantly flat has had rumours of heavy crosswinds, which get to the teams and the riders and makes the whole atmosphere in the bunch nervous.
While there was some wind today, it was not what was expected yet again, but this didn't stop teams like Astana-Premier Tech from trying to break up the bunch. They did almost manage this with a couple of small groups losing touch with the main bunch, but no-one involved with the GC or the sprints was involved.
Stage six was probably the day that had the most wind with the race being split to pieces over one section by Ineos Grenadiers and Movistar, but even there the section was exceptionally short and the race came back together again with it all coming down to the final kicker on that day.
Fortunately, the nerves didn't seem as bad for stage eight and no-one hit the deck. But the race has seen crashes due to the nerves with the previous race leader of Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) losing his lead because of it.
The GC riders will be hoping that these nerves are just the usual first week twitches of a Grand Tour and now as the race heads into the mountains properly those will subside.
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