Welcome to live coverage of the Vuelta a Espana stage 8 from Villalpando to Alto de la Camperona
How time flies, it's already the second weekend of the Vuelta and we're almost ready to go for stage 8.
The big news this morning is that Alberto Contador will continue despite being involved in the finale of yesterdays stage. Contador was uncharacteristically angry at the end of the stage. The usually calm and collected Spaniard took out his frustrations on one of his bidons.
Contador was still pretty frustrated this morning and went on a short rant on twitter, as we're all prone to doing from time to time. He suggested that GC times are taken with three km to go as most of the crashes happen in those final three kilometres. Contador was well taped up on the turbo this morning, with plenty of tape on his knee and elbow. The soigneurs went a little artsy, making sure the tape was in the colours of the Spanish flag.
@lavuelta Sat, 27th Aug 2016 10:40:43
The neutral start of today's stage is just a few minutes away. While the stage is mostly flat, there is a very big sting in the tail. It's the first of three consecutive summit finishes that should shake up the overall classification. Read our preview of the up and coming mountain stages here.
Darwin Atapuma remains in the red jersey despite a tricky couple of days, this is the general classification as it stands ahead of the stage.
1 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 25:41:05
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:24
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:32
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:38
5 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:07
7 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:12
8 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:14
9 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:22
10 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:01:28
The riders are making their way through the neutral zone right now. It's a 7.3km ride before they reach KM0.
We mentioned that Contador is taking to the start this morning, here is a bit more info his injuries and some comments from the Tinkoff rider this morning.
The flag has dropped and the riders are racing. The 186 finishers from yesterday's stage ave all taken to the start. This is what they've got to look forward to today.
Six kilometres in and it's still all together in the peloton.
The attacks are coming though and 11 riders have jumped clear at the 10km mark and have got over a minute on the bunch at the moment.
The riders that have gone clear are Zico Waeytens (Giant-Alpecin), Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep), Axel Domont (AG2R La Mondiale), Sergey Lagutin (Katusha), Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha), Gatis Smukulis (Astana), Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida), 183 Loic Chetout (Cofidis), Scott Thwaits (Bora-Argon 18), Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie).
It appears that the selection process for the break group was much easier than it has been in the past few stages. With the gap going up to 2:25 now, it seems the peloton is more than happy to let this one go clear for the day.
Perhaps some marginal weight loss for today's summit finish? Chris Froome gets a haircut ahead of the stage.
The gap is growing very quickly for our leaders and they have 4:46 on the bunch now.
AG2R La Mondiale's Axel Domont is the best placed rider in the GC from today's escapees. The Frenchman is 23:28 down on the race leader Darwin Atapuma. Domont has been in the break already during this year's Vuelta a Espana after having a go off the front on stage 4.
We caught a word with Atapuma's teammate Tejay van Garderen, who is not riding for the GC at the Vuelta. He said that should there be a big buffer between Atapuma and the best placed rider in the break then they would be happy to let it go. The American also discussed today's tough finish.
"I think it depends on the composition of the breakaway," he said. "A lot of people are going to be motivated to get into the breakaway but if someone’s on two minutes and they jump into the breakaway then it’s going to be up to us to chase it back because we have the red jersey. If we see a breakaway like yesterday where the best guys are on 20 minutes then we’re happy to let it go to the line.
"I’ve never raced it [the final climb] before but I watched the video of 2014 when Hesjedal won. It looks super steep and I imagine that the GC guys are going to want to show their stuff today."
Of his own race so far, van Garderen said: "It’s been getting a good tan… no it’s been fun, it’s been good. I stated my ambitions from the start that I wasn’t here for GC. I wasn’t lying about that, I don’t quite have the fitness to contend there. We have the jersey, so I have been doing a lot of work to protect Atapuma with the jersey. We’re having fun and we’re going to try and continue this good momentum right into Madrid."
The one and only climb of today the Alto de la Camperona is a doozy. It's 8.5km and averages 7.4 per cent but it has multiple sections over 20 per cent and one stinger of 25 per cent. It might be short but riders could lose plenty of time here. This is what the profile looks like.
The gap to the 11 escapees continues to grow out. They now have more than six minutes on the bunch.
BMC DS Valerio Piva says that today's stage will be a multi-pronged approach.
"It's an important three days ahead of us as we knew from the start. It's important for Samu, but also for Darwin. He holds the red jersey and he's a climber so we'll have to see how far he can go. Yesterday Samuel was trapped at the back when he went for a pee. It was a mistake and we told him. It took three guys to bring him back, whom we couldn't use to set up Philippe Gilbert and go for the stage win," he told the race website.
A short of the escapees working very well together at the moment.
This is the second time that La Camperona will be used as a summit finish. The climb last appeared in at the Vuelta in 2014 where Ryder Hesjedal took the win from a breakaway. On that occasion, they had to tackle another cat 1 climb en route. This year there is nothing of the sort but it is still expected to produce some gaps. Of the GC riders here this season, Chris Froome fared the best, although Alberto Contador extended his lead in the red jersey. Re-live that stage here.
118km remaining from 181km
The first hour of racing has been completed in a zippy average speed of 45.8km thanks to the flat parcours. The advantage of the escapees has also grown out further to over seven minutes.
Yesterday saw several riders abandon the Vuelta. One of those was Rein Taaramae, who was involved in a collision with a Cofidis car after he dropped off the back of the peloton. Fortunately he escaped with few injuries but his bike was not so fortunate. Read the full story here.
Katusha posted this photo of Taaramae's bike last night. Looking at the damage it seems a miracle that he wasn't worse injured than he was.
106km remaining from 181km
Our 11 riders continue to plug on at a pretty decent pace. Their advantage now stands at 7:04.
Chris Froome tells the Vuelta website that he's going to play it cool in the early part of today's summit finish.
"Today I'm going to ride the last climb the way I always do, holding back a little bit at first before trying to accelerate in the finale. The most impressive rider in the Vuelta so far for me is probably Esteban Chaves."
Away from the Vuelta, Greg Van Avermaet will return to racing tomorrow after his gold medal at the Olympic Games earlier this month. In honour of that victory, BMC has given his bike a golden makeover. Take a look at the results here and let us know what you think.
As holders of the red jersey, BMC is doing their bit at the head of proceedings. They're quite happy to give the 11 men up front plenty of room, although the gap has stopped going out in the same manner as it was earlier in the stage. 7:28 now separates the two groups.
There are a few riders in this break that have already had a go out front during this year's Vuelta a Espana. We mentioned Axel Domont who went clear on stage 4, which was also the day that Atapuma took red. One of the riders who joined Domont and Atapuma in that day's break was Scott Thwaites. The Bora-Argon 18 rider is one of the leading 11 today. He is making his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta. Thwaites is a classics rider/sprinter so he'll have to do something a bit out of the ordinary if he wants to take the win here. Nevertheless, it is all good experience for him.
Etixx-QuickStep's Pieter Serry has also been on the attack at this year's Vuelta. He went a little earlier than Domont and Thwaites, making the break on stage 3. The Belgian was one of the strongest in the break on that day and the last rider to stick with Alexandre Geniez until the Frenchman made his stage-winning attack with a kilometre remaining. should the break go all the way today, Serry would be a god bet for the victory. If he were to win then it would be his first Grand Tour success.
Esteban Chaves finished second at the Giro d'Italia earlier this season. The Colombian is hoping for a repeat at the Vuelta but he says that the Spanish race is a different kettle of fish.
"It's always difficult to say because it's a different race, a different country but I think that normally I'm in a better shape than I was in the Giro. My style is not the same as Froome's or Contador's. I'm going to try to stay with the best every day in the three important days to come but I think the Vuelta will probably be decided in the longer, harder climbs in the Pyrenees."
Movistar is lending BMC a hand at the front of the peloton. They've got Valverde and Quintana in the top 10 in the GC at the moment and they want to keep it that way. Valverde is likely to be the better of the two on this climb. The Spaniard prefers the punchier stuff while Quintana likes the longer climbs.
The average speed is still pretty quick and after two hours the leaders have been motoring along at 45.3kph.
80km remaining from 181km
The gap is still growing and it does look like BMC are going to let this go all the way. They could still shut this down but if they'd had intentions on bringing it back then they would have at least kept it level. I may be proved wrong but the peloton looks happy to ride tempo for now. The 11 riders now have an advantage of almost eight minutes.
Contador is making his way through the team cars with some teammates for company. The Tinkoff car comes up and he drifts into its slipstream. There doesn't seem to be any problems, other than the injuries he picked up yesterday, perhaps just a comfort break.
News from the finish line is that there is a tailwind up the length of the Alto de la Comperona. That will be music to some rider's ears. It's warm out there too although cooler than it has been in recent days.
@Etixx_QuickStep Sat, 27th Aug 2016 13:27:28
Enrico Battaglin goes back to the medical car for a check over. There are quite a few riders with knocks and niggles after several crashes in the first week.
68km remaining from 181km
The peloton has just been through the feed zone and that gap just keeps on going up. With just 68km to go the leaders are now 8:32 up the road.
More news from the finish at the top of La Camperona, the wind has changed direction and the riders will have a headwind if it stays like this. Sounds like it is fairly changeable out there so it may be coming at them from a different angle by the time they hit the in a little over an hour.
63km remaining from 181km
BMC continues to set the pace with Tejay van Garderen and Silvan Dillier at the head of proceedings. Behind them is a very long line of Movistar riders. No stress at all as the gap goes to 9 minutes.
If the break do go to the finish then we will certainly get a first-time Grand Tour dtage winner as not one of the 11 out front has achieved that in the past. Perrig Quemeneur is possibly the most prolific breakaway rider out there though andat 32 he is one of the most experienced. He was given the combativity prize on stage 6 of the 2015 Tour de France, although he eventually finished well down. This is his first Grand Tour of 2016.
54km remaining from 181km
BMC has suddenly appeared en masse at the front of the bunch. Making sure that the red jersey is completely safe as we approach the latter stages of this stage.
The sudden movement to the front is not having an impact on the gap to the escapees. They're still riding piano as it were and the gap now stands at a sizeable 9:45. It looks almost certain now that the breakaway will be successful today.
Elsewhere in the cycling world, Frenchman David Gaudu has won the overall classification at the Tour de l'Avenir while the American Neilson Powless won the final stage. Gaudu joins the likes of Nairo Quintana, Esteban Chaves, Warren Barguil, Bauke Mollema, Miguel Indurain and Laurent Fignon as winners of the race. We can expect great things from him in the future. Read our profile of the young climber here.
Samuel Sanchez is in home territory at the moment. He's the team's GC hope, even if Atapuma is in red, so will he give it a go today? He'll at least be hoping for a better day than he had yesterday.
"We're getting closer to home. Oviedo is my city and the race will be going 2 km close to my home and past a monument about me that has been built in town. Of course it's exciting and special and I hope to be able to be up there with the best. I'm extremely motivated. Yesterday was scary. The Astana attacked when I was taking a pee. That's modern cycling. No respect. And then in the final crash I hurt my finger and my ankle but it's not too bad."
So, as it seems inevitable that the stage winner will come from the breakaway, who are the riders that we can expect to be in the mix? Well, considering his performance earlier in the Vuelta, Serry is likely to be up there. Domont should also be up there as should Jacques Janse Van Rensburg. Quemeneur will undoubtedly try something but whether or not he has the strength to hold off some of the stronger riders in this group. Mattia Cattaneo could also be a contender in this finale.
39km remaining from 181km
As the gap goes up to 10:32, the leaders are just over 30km away from the final climb. How long before we see someone try to attack?
We're still flying along at the moment. Three hours down and the average speed is still 45.6kph. That is well ahead of the fastest predicted schedule by almost 20 minutes.
Of course, if that headwind on the final climb sticks it will slow them down a little bit. We can still expect a slightly earlier finish than predicted.
Here is local boy Samuel Sanchez chatting in the bunch.
Orica-BikeExchange DS Neil Stephens confirms that his team are also not thinking about the stage win today. for them, it is more about the bigger picture.
"There are two races today, the first one will be a breakaway which has a strong chance to go all the way," he said. "We won't be interested in this race. And then there's the second race between the GC leaders, and that's the ones that matters. Today's final climb is not too bad for Esteban (Chaves) but it's not his terrain either. He grew up at 3,000 metres and that's when he's at his best."
27km remaining from 181km
No sign of any movement coming out of the breakaway yet, they're still working very well together at the moment.
24km remaining from 181km
The peloton has picked up the pace finally and the front of it is very much strung out. The gap is coming down for possibly the first time today but it's still a decent size at 10:10.
A little reminder of what is to come in 14km.
18km remaining from 181km
The gap continues to come down as BMC puts their entire team to work at the front. 9:44 is the latest time check.
16km remaining from 181km
Lots of water still being dished out. On days like today, the rules of refreshments go out the window. Usually riders aren't allowed to take on food and drink in the last 20km but it's too hot to even consider that.
13km remaining from 181km
The race is still well ahead of schedule and with this injection of pace, they are moving even further ahead. Organisers had predicted 42km to be the fastest average speed but the peloton has been zipping along at around 45 for much of the day. Of course, that will come down a bit when they reach the climb.
It's still very much a slick unit in the breakaway. The climb is coming up in less than 5km so that won't last much longer.
The break has upped the pace now. It's not long until that climb rears up in big style and someone's going to go soon.
8km remaining from 181km
Waeytens is the first to try his hand. He'll need a decent lead when the climb begins to bite if he wants this move to be successful.
The Giant Alpecin rider takes the points at the intermediate sprint but they won't be of much interest to him.
Smukulis is now chasing Waeytens down with Restrepo and they've almost got him.
6km remaining from 181km
They catch Waeytens and Restrepo doesn't wait and carries on.
The leaders still have plenty of room to work with as far as the peloton is concerned. The main bunch is charging along but is 8:31 back.
5km remaining from 181km
Restrepo has a good gap on the two chasers but the gradient is not too difficult when you consider what is to come.
Back in the bunch, Etixx-QuickStep and Tinkoff are moving forward while BMC maintain that position they've had all day at the front.
The break looks like its coming back together but Restrepo still has a small lead. Behind, the peloton has knocked back a bit.
4km remaining from 181km
Restrepo has 18 seconds on the two chasers, who are just 7 seconds ahead of the third group out front.
Two-time stage winner Meersman has just done a big turn on the front and peels off to allow his teammates continue the pace setting. Etixx-QuickStep is working for Brambilla who is currently in 9th place.
Lotto Jumbo, AG2R, Astana and Sky are now trying to battle their way to the front of the peloton. It's getting very busy in the peloton.
3km remaining from 181km
Restrepo's lead is now 24 seconds as he hits the toughest part of today's final climb.
Quemeneur now goes off the front of the chasing pack, with Smukulis and Waeytens back in that main break group.
There are some big crowds on the climb but most are being kept at bay by barriers.
Restrepo still plugging on as he tackles some of the tougher parts. He looks over his shoulder and can see Quemeneur not too far behind him.
Movistar and Cannondale now manning the front of the peloton. Valverde could cause some pain in the GC battle today.
2km remaining from 181km
Restrepo almost crawls through the 2km to go section. This is tough. Quemeneur still hasn't made the juncture.
This climb is pretty narrow and it's going to be particularly hard when the peloton comes through, not that there will be many left in it when they do.
A quick note from the GP Plouay where Eugenia Bujak has taken victory.
Restrepo conintues his lonely battle. He's pedalling squares through and the chasers have almost got him.
1km remaining from 181km
Quemeneur looks like he has been brought back by a small group that contains Domont and Serry.
The peloton now hits the climb and Quintana is laying in wait in second position with Valverde in his wheel. Sky is right behind them too.
Not much info from the front at the moment but it looks like Serry and Lagutin have caught Restrepo who is struggling off the back.
Domont is also in that leading group.
Domont leads the trio up the road with Lagutin and Serry in his wheel.
Back in the peloton, the race has broken into pieces. Valverde leads a group of around 15 riders up. Contador is one of the riders in that group as the red jersey begins to be distanced.
As the leaders go under the flamme rouge, Quemeneur is now up in that front group. This is really tough.
1km remaining from 181km
Quemeneur attacks now
He is brought back by Lagutin and Domont as Serry is slightly distanced.
In the main group, Froome has also been dropped but he did this earlier in the Vuelta and came back eventually.
As I type, Froome does make it back to that main group which appears to have almost all of the favourites in there. Atapuma is nowhere to be seen though.
300 metres for the leaders now and it's anyone's game.
Serry is still struggling a little further back and Cattaneo is mounting a late comeback.
Domont tries to follow him but he doesn't have the legs and it's Lagutin who wins.
Domont crossed the line in second and it looks like it was Quemeneur in third but that's not confirmed.
We go back to the GC group and Froome has attacked. Quintana and Contador are the only riders that can go with him.
Contador pops and Quintana attacks. He drops Froome and goes under the flamme rouge.
Quintana extending his lead over Froome as Contador really begins to struggle.
Is Quintana riding himself into red?
The fans are a bit more expressive as Quintana rides through and he doesn't get much room to move.
Just a few hundred metres for Quintana now and he's got a decent gap over Froome.
Contador has got Yates, Valverde and Goncalves with him with Froome just up the road.
Quintana charging towards the line. Timing will count here. There's just a few seconds separating him from Froome.
Even for a small guy like Quintana that finish was tough.
Contafor passes Froome in the run to the line as he finds a second wind. It looks very much like Quintana is in red.
That was a determined finish from Contador. It looked like he was down and out but he fought his way back. That will be a boost to his morale.
Atapuma comes home almost two minutes down on Quintana.
The riders are coming across in dribs and drabs. That was a brutal finish.
Atapuma sits down on a small wall. He's exhausted after that. Thankfully for BMC, Sanchez finished a little further up to keep himself well up on the GC.
We now get a moment to reflect on the stage winner Lagutin. Katusha had missed a number of successful breaks this week. They played it perfectly today though. With two in the break they were able to make use of their numbers, sending Restrepo up the road while Lagutin marked the other riders.
Confirmation from the organisers that Quintana will move into the red jersey. We just await t confirmation of the advantage he has over his rivals.
And it's in, the Colombian leads his teammate Valverde by 19 seconds with Froome 27 seconds back in third place. Contador jumps back into the top 10 and now lies in sixth place at 1:39 behind Quintana.
And here is that GC top 10 after stage 8.
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 29:55:54
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:19
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:27
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:57
5 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:16
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:01:39
7 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:44
8 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:46
9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:46
10 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:01:47
And this is how it finished on today's stage.
1 Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Team Katusha 4:09:30
2 Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:10
3 Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Direct Energie 0:00:17
4 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre - Merida 0:00:24
5 Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:40
6 Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data 0:00:55
7 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18 0:01:11
8 Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Astana Pro Team 0:01:30
9 Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Team Katusha
10 Loïc Chetout (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:44
Sergey Lagutin was obviously delighted to win his first Grand Tour stage. This is a big moment for the veteran rider.
""Finally the dream came true. I’ve been dreaming about it since I was little, to win a stage of a Grand Tour like the Vuelta, so when this happened I couldn’t believe that it happened to me. I’m 35 years old and at some point I thought that it was probably it but I still hoped that it was for me," he said at the finish.
"We don’t have our team leader (Joaquim Rodriguez) so we’re all free to do what we want and there are plenty of chances. We are still competitive and we’re looking forwards at this Vuelta."
Lagutin looks almost bemused on the podium. He's not won a race in four years, so this is a very different experience for him.
@lavuelta Sat, 27th Aug 2016 15:34:02
Nairo Quintana puts on the red jersey. He wore it in 2014 but crashed while in it. Let's hope things go a little better this time around for the Colombian.
The organisers have updated the standings after initially missing Atapuma from the top 10. Atapuma moves into sixth just a second ahead of Contador who is now down in seventh.
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 5:55:54
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:19
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:27
4 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 0:00:57
5 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:16
6 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 0:01:36
7 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:01:39
8 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:44
9 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:46
10 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:46
Alberto Contador was swarmed by the press after the finish, which is the norm at almost any race. I've almost lost my arm in a few of those media scrums. He seems a little happier about his prospects today compared to yesterday, when he took his frustrations out on a poor unsuspecting bidon.
"I wanted to stay with a cool head to day and keep my emotions together," he told the press. "It was a day that you needed to keep a calm head. I wasn’t able to follow Quintana, we have a lot of work to do. We did a lot of work with the physio this morning, I felt better and my legs were a lot better than I expected. You feel the pain but sometimes on the second day you feel worse than the first after an accident. So, we’ll see tomorrow because we still have to work.
"I’m ok, it’s difficult to keep a positive attitude sometimes especially with all these questions but let’s see day by day."
More from Lagutin on that stage win, the biggest of his career.
"I still can’t believe that it happened to me. At some point, I was thinking that nothing more would happen in my career, that the best had gone. Today I felt good and to get into the breakaway was quite easy. We worked well all together, the sports directors on the radio gave me confidence and told me to wait until the final 500 metres. Everything just went perfectly.
"Jonny did an incredible job for me, he was fundamental. He attacked on the climb and I was able to sit in the wheel not working so I could save my legs for the final. I would say that more than 50 percent of this victory is thanks to Jonathan Restrepo.
"Honestly, with two kilometres to go when the French riders began attacking and I was able to follow them without giving everything, I had the confidence. Thanks to the sports directors Xavier Florencio he was telling me not to panic and save my legs. That’s what I did and we deserved that victory."
We've got a full report, brief results and a few photos from today's stage already. You can find that all here.
Tomorrow's stage has got plenty more climbs for the GC riders to have fun with. With Movistar now in control of the red jersey, they may be more inclined to keep a tighter leash on the breakaway but that remains to be seen. Anyway, this is what tomorrow's stage looks like.
That is it from us today but remember to keep tuned to Cyclingnews for reaction from today's stage and we'll be back with more live coverage tomorrow. Click here for today's report.
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