Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing) took the sprint win from a depleted lead group on a ragged day at the Vuelta a España.
Stuyven’s Trek team took up the pace in the closing kilometres to discourage any attacks, and despite a couple of futile attempts from the likes of Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal), this worked and their man delivered.
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After a crash with 50km remaining on the stage that forced the withdrawal of Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal), the peloton raced up the finishing circuit.
Attacks went and were brought back, but as teams formed on the front it was clear that we’d get a bunch sprint (of sorts) to finish the day.
A possible favourite for the day, Peter Sagan, was taken out of contention in a crash that reportedly involved a race vehicle or motorbike. His anger at the crash was clear and there are likely to be repercussions as a result.
The general classification contenders all finished together to retain the same time gaps, but with some reshuffling of positions as a result of the abandonments.
How the day unfolded
An early breakaway of six never looked likely to last and the involved riders hastened their own catch when they started a very early session of cat and mouse.
The break split apart leaving just Ángel Madrazo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal) and Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin) out front.
Howes then hit out on his own, but misjudged a corner and got tangled up with a roadside barrier. He was unharmed and was able to start riding almost straight away, but by then the damage was done and he was soon passed by Madrazo.
Madrazo’s solo effort didn’t last long and the peloton soon came past.
It was during this time that the large crash had happened, which may have given the breakaway a lifeline but did not make much difference to their inevitable fate.
Vuelta a España stage eight Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia, 182.5km
1. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing, 4:06:05
2. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Caja Rural
3. Kevin Reza (Fra) FDJ
4. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar
5. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
6. Tosh van der Sande (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
7. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidi
8. Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
9. JJ Rojas (Esp) Movistar
10. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Team Sky, all same time
Overall classification after stage eight
1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica Greenedge
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin), at 10 seconds
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky, at 36 seconds
4. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 49 seconds
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Esp) Katusha, at 56 seconds
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 57 seconds
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, same time
8. Daniel Moreno (Esp) Katusha, at 1-18
9. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, at 1-19
10. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, at 1-21
11. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, at 1-22