Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 8 of the Vuelta a España.
After two mountain stages, the Vuelta returns to a flatter terrain today for the 173km stage 8 from Santa Pola to La Manga del Mar Menor.
However wind could be a factor on the exposed roads of the outer edge of the saltwater lagoon.
As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, the riders are gathering for the roll out under a warm summer sun.
The riders face a 8.3km neutralised section.
As always we'll have full coverage of all the action and post-stage reaction, photos and results.
The crowds are out at the start in Santa Pola near Alicante.
🇪🇸 #LaVuelta21 Great turn out in Alicante this morning for stage 8... ⛱ 🌴 pic.twitter.com/W20G3WDqUMAugust 21, 2021
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) weathered a potentially tricky and chaotic stage to keep his direct rivals close at hand and keep hold of the red jersey. However Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) abanonded mid-stage and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) crashed out.
Click below to read our full stage report and see our photo gallery.
Primoz Roglic kept the race lead even if he perhaps wanted to give it away to avoid the responsabilities it entails.
Felix Grossschartner placed seventh on the stage - 1:32 down on Storer and 2:01 up on Roglic - to jump to from 15th to 2nd overall at eight seconds.
The stage starts in the Valenciana region and heads south down the coast to Murcia.
That is Alejandro Valverde's region but he faces surgery on a collarbone fracture after crashing on Friday.
Click below to read more about the Movistar veteran.
This was the roll out of Santa Pola.
🏁 ¡Ya ha arrancado la etapa 8!👏🏻 Stage 8 is on! #LaVuelta21 pic.twitter.com/lexTo0eQdIAugust 21, 2021
A total of 176 started the stage.
As well as Valverde and Carthy, three other riders failed to finish stage 7, while Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Qhubeka-NextHash) finished outside the time limit due to illness.
The stage us underway after the neutralised ride out of Santa Pola.
We're awaiting for the first attacks.
It is 28C out on the road, with current wind speeds of 15km/h.
Is that enough to cause splits in the peloton and echelons? We'll soon find out.
The stage looking over the beachfront, with holiday makers watching the sign-on. However there was no chance for the riders to enjoy the holiday atmosphere.
The Bike Exchange team expect a fast and furious sprint finish and captured the atmosphere of the start in this video.
🎬 Morning recap ⏮Out of the hills & down to the coast for what should be a fast and furious bunch sprint stage. 🏝💨🚴🏻♂️#LaVuelta21 day 8 🔴 pic.twitter.com/Daw7FpVRE7August 21, 2021
Bam! After 1km the attacks have started.
Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Aritz Bagues (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) have opened a gap of 15 seconds.
The peloton have let the break go!
They have a lead of 1:00. But how much will they gain before the sprint teams start to chase? And who will chase?
The trio are riding at 48km/h as they try to open a gap on the peloton.
None of the the riders upfront have been on attack in this Vuelta so far. None of them are an overall threat to Promoz Roglic's race lead and so it will be up to the sprinters' teams to lead the chase.
After 10km the break leads by 2:20.
As the gap nears 4:00, the Deceuninck-QuickStep team of Fabio Jakobsen have blinked and moved to the front of the peloton to lead the chase.
They will no doubt be calling for Alpecin-Fenix and other teams to also put at least one rider on the front to help control the break.
The riders are near Torrevieja and the town's lagoons give a taste of what is to come at the finish when the rider race along the narrow La Manga del Mar Menor strip.
145km to go
Before the finish, the riders face a loop in land and an intermediate sprint in Cartagena.
Here's the first shot of the break of the day.
The peloton can ride at a more sedate pace.
These are the jersey wearers today.
It's 29C out on the road but Egan Bernal wanted to be cool before the start.
An ice shower 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 the stage @Eganbernal? 🧯🧯🧯This is how hot it is in Santa Pola today #LaVuelta21 🥵 pic.twitter.com/PxWE5RWhnvAugust 21, 2021
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) still leads the overall standings despite Felix Grossschartner’s attack on the road to Balcon de Alicante. The Austrian from Bora-Hansgrohe is only 8 seconds behind but it will be difficult for him to take Roja jersey.
Jasper Philispen (Alpecin-Fenix) swears the green jersey and has a total of 131 points, just one more than Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step).
There is a maximum of 70 points up for grabs during today's stage: 20 in the intermediate sprint and 50 at the finish.
Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) is the new leader of the blue polka-dot KOM jersey after going on the attack in the mountains on stage 7.
The young Russian has 16 points, just 4 more than the stage winner Michael Storer (Team DSM).
However there are no categorised climb on stage 8, so Sivakov can enjoy his day in the jersey.
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) still leads the best young rider competition and so wears the white and green jersey. He leads the Under 25 competition ahead of Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), who is at 25 seconds, while Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) is third at 2:11.
Back to today's action and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Aritz Bagues (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) lead by 3:45.
The peloton is keeping them under control.
Here is Sivakov talking about the weekend to come.
📽️ Proudly wearing his first KOM jersey at a Grand Tour, @PavelSivakov is ready for a weekend of crosswinds and climbs at #LaVuelta21 pic.twitter.com/oHNcVHs2xbAugust 21, 2021
It may have been a steady first hour but they raced at 43.3km/h.
Here's what Romain Bardet (Team DSM) had to say ahead of today's stage.
"It’s definitely going in a good way [with his knee] so I’m quite optimistic for what’s coming. Yesterday, it was a really nice day for the team. We did perfectly what we had in mind, being agressive and trying to make the most of the numbers.
"We had five guys in the break, so it was quite an ideal position to fight for the stage win and that’s what Michael [Storer] achieved so it was a really good day. It was not too hard to take some [KOM] points along the way, but the first priority is a stage win."
115km to go
Three minutes between the breakaway and the peloton at the moment.
Alpecin-Fenix, Deceuninck-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma lead the way.
The gap to the break is coming down as the riders near the 100km to go mark. It's 2:15 now but there's still a very long way to go before the peloton thinks about making the catch.
Team boss reveals he's open to bring Elia Viviani back for 2022
Stage 6 winner, EF-Nippo's Magnus Cort:
"If possible, I think everybody would like to win a stage. There are some really good sprinters here, but after we lost Hugh Carthy, I think we’ll give it a try today in the sprint. For sure [we focus on stage wins now].
"We have nobody left in the general classification so me and the whole team will focus on stages. I don’t think I’m one of the favourites but I think I can mix it up in the sprint, be there and do a nice result in the end."
100km to go
2:15 is the gap at the moment.
The trio in the break push on but their lead is pegged at 2:00 as Alpecin-Fenix, Deceuninck-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma share the work on the front.
90km to go
The race has headed inland now but will head back to the Mediterranean coast for the intermediate coast in 20km.
In the peloton Primoz Roglic enjoys some late lunch, making sure to keep fed and hydrated.
The peloton is lined out at the moment, despite the calm ride so far.
Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) is looking for a third win today but is starting to feel the fatigue after a hard day in the mountains on Friday.
“It’s a nice race for sure but yesterday was a hard stage so I didn’t love La Vuelta so much!” he joked at the start.
“Today we just go for it. It’s another sprint stage. There aren’t too many flat days anymore, with some hard next stages, so let’s try to focus on today and take this opportunity.”
Britain's James Knox is working a lot on the front for Deceuninck-QuickStep and Fabio Jakobsen. He's a climber and so doesn't offer a lot of slipstream for the other riders behind him.
The peloton grab their musette and so it's a belated lunch time for them.
70km to go
As the kilometres tick down, the lead of the break is fading. It is now 1:30 as the trio near the intermediate sprint.
The trio in the break sprint hard and fast, as do the peloton as the sprinters fight for the points.
Aritz Bagues (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) won the sprint in the break.
Behind it seems Arnaud Demare came from behind to beat Philipsen and Jakobsen.
Michael Matthews was also in the fight for the green points jersey.
🥗🚴♂️ Lunch time, supported by the great @Escamez81 🎩👌Muy 'atada' la fuga del día en la 8ª de 🇪🇸 #LaVuelta21. Los equipos con sprinters controlan en todo momento a Iturria (EUS), Bagües (CJR) y Okamika (BBH).Calma y atención para los Movistar Team, por ahora sin percances. pic.twitter.com/BklJUn1q4wAugust 21, 2021
This was the intermediate sprint.
🏁 -68 km | Etapa 8 - Stage 8 | #LaVuelta21💨Sprint intermedio de Cartagena1⃣ @aritz_bagues 2⃣ @Itturri46 3⃣ @oka_ander @skoda_es 👉https://t.co/zqaO4Bw62K pic.twitter.com/bCV1D0hG4LAugust 21, 2021
60km to go
The peloton have allowed the break to extend their lead to 1:30 but the chase is still on, preparing and working for a fast final sprint.
The race is close to the coast and not far from the coast but the riders face a loop around the countryside before the dash to La Manga del Mar Menor.
The Manga lagoon combines tourism, biodiversity, beaches and has an excellent climate.
It also has an extraordinary list of cycling achievements in its history.
It has hosted three Vuelta finishes, all of them very relevant to the race’s history.
The 1980 Vuelta 1980 started there in 1977 Freddy Maertens won. His victory in La Manga was the second of 13 stage victories obtained in the same edition of the race, a record that remains unbroken.
50km to go
A slight climb creates a fast descent as riders grab some late bidons and prepare for the fast finale.
The racing is going to get faster and faster from now.
Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Aritz Bagues (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) continue to work well together in their escape adventure.
They've taken the race to the peloton today and will no doubt try to stay away with a late acceleration.
The race blasts past the La Manga golf courses, but with no time to check out the greens.
Sadly Davide Cimolai of Israel Start-Up Nation has abandoned.
He is the third rider from Israel Start-Up Nation to leave the race.
With 40km the speed is up in the peloton. The GC teams are moving up to keep their leaders' safe in the finale.
The riders can see the Menor sea lagoon and the long promontory where the stage ends.
Here we go! There's a moment of cross winds and suddenly Astana go on the attack.
The Astana acceleration has caught the break and spat some riders out of the back.
Ooooh. We have three groups spread down the road.
Trek-Segafredo drag one group back to the peloton as a third group of 40 riders closes in.
Surprisingly Magnus Cort of EF is caught behind.
We spoke too soon! 💨💨 The break's caught as the pace is ramped up on the front of the bunch causing some splits in the peloton with 35km to race.The guys are around @alberto_dainese up in the front group. 💪🏻#LaVuelta21 pic.twitter.com/EzXDzkGDpAAugust 21, 2021
30km to go
20 riders are out the back and trying to close the gap. This will hurt them.
After a short ease ion the pace, the peloton accelerates again as they fight to hold position.
The race is inland but the speed remains high and very nervous.
If Astana attacked in the wind near the lagoon, what will happen on the promontory narrow strip of land in the final 10km?
Trek and Ineos are fighting for position on the front to protect their GFC leader.
Trek-Segafredo have an extra reason to win today after the team revealed that manager Luca Guercilena was fighting cancer and would take a break from management.
Ineos are on the left of the road, Trek on the right, DSM down the middle with Groupama.
The race flips onto the main highway and now it's a blast all the way to the sweeping turn onto the promontory.
Some riders are dropping out of the back due to the high speed.
This is the fight for position.
On approche de La Manga del Mar Menor. pic.twitter.com/WMFr3tKQZ9August 21, 2021
The peloton is packed but spread across the highway. This is like racing at the UAE Tour.
But the roads will narrow soon and position up front will be vital.
The peloton is packed tight, shoulder to shoulder.
Hey, hey, hey. Lets be careful out there...
10km to go
Another squeeze in the road almost sparks a crash. The speed is high because nobody wants to go down.
The gradual sweeping curve begins and so the head wind will become a side wind.
The road squeezes from three to two lanes wide.
Team DSM are on the right of the road. Ineos on the left.
Which is the best side? We'll find out very soon.
The race is squeezed into two lanes.
The road weaves along the promontory but heads in the same direction.
Astana hit the front to protect Valsov.
DSM are riding together for sprinter Alberto Dainese.
Now Deceuninck move up for Jakobsen.
The road opens to three lanes. but it will close again soon.
The speed is up to 65km/h.
The crowds make a narrow corridor of noise.
Deceuninck have 3 riders on the front as Groupama move up for Demare.
4km to go.
Groupama take charge.
Bike Exchange try to move up Matthews.
Bora are also there.
The GC teams feel safe now. Time for the sprinters to take centre stage.
2km to go
Groupama have the numbers for a perfect lead out train.
A Burgos rider takes a flyer.
But he is hunted down by UAE.
UAE take charge but here comes Groupama.
Deceuninck are there too. Where is Jakobsen?
Deceuninck lead it out.
Jakobsen came out at the right time and lead it home!
He won that well, with Dainese and Philipsen with him but unable to come past him.
Jakobsen takes some deep breaths, that was a tense, high-speed sprint.
Jakobsen was sixth wheel in the final curve but dived tighter on the way out and sprinted to victory.
This is the top ten for the stage
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep||3:56:05|
|2||Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM|
|3||Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|4||Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|5||Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates|
|6||Itamar Einhorn (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation|
|7||Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|8||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|9||Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|10||Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis|
And this is the top ten overall.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) stays in the leader's red jersey.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma||29:14:40|
|2||Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:00:08|
|3||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:25|
|4||Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team||0:00:36|
|5||Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||0:00:38|
|6||Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:41|
|7||Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious||0:00:57|
|8||Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma||0:00:59|
|9||Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech||0:01:06|
|10||Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:01:22|
This is Jakobsen's second win at the Vuelta, making his return from injury even more significant.
Here is the first pic of Jakobsen's win.
Florian Senechal did the final lead out for Jakobsen and also celebrated before his Deceuninck teammate hit the line.
This video shows the speed and tension of the final kilometre.
Etapa 8 - Stage 8 | #LaVuelta21🇪🇸 Vive el último kilómetro de la segunda victoria de @FabioJakobsen gracias a @CarrefourES🇬🇧 Live the last km. of Fabio Jakobsen's victory thanks to @CarrefourES#CarrefourConLaVuelta pic.twitter.com/d1OHFbEowBAugust 21, 2021
While some of the sprinters hesitate out of the final curve and had to slow after their leadout men eased up, Jakobsen took a clean line and was able to open up his sprint, accelerating past his rivals, including Philipsen and Dainese.
Fabio Jakobsen was happy to take his second win.
It's very special to be here again. The team did a perfect job," Jakobsen said.
"They kept the speed high and even though I lost them a little bit I was still in a good position. I launched my sprint just in the corner at 200 to go and I was the fastest, I think.
"It was about being strong, fast, and it's about timing, I think. In a finish like this you need to be on time. I've been twice too late and this time I was perfectly right, and I could do a full sprint to the line."
Winning again eqauls Jakobsen's success of 2019, before his Tour de Pologne crash.
"Two years ago I won twice. I'm just extremely happy and grateful to be here. I'd like to thank the team again.
"[Team boss] Patrick Lefevere is here today and I'm sure he's happy. This is what we'll keep on doing – try to win sprints."
To understand all the details of the stage and see the full results and growing photo gallery, click below to see our stage report page.
Thanks for following our live coverage, we'll be back on Sunday for full live coverage of the 188km stage 9 from Puerto Lumbreras - Alto de Velefique.
After today's sprinting, the Vuelta returns to the mountains and the fight for overall victory.
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