Saturday’s eighth stage of the Vuelta a Espana headed into the mountains over 190 km (118 m) from Villena in a semi-circular route ending at Xorret del Catí. This was the first real mountain climbing stage with one Category 3 climb near the front, three Category 2s wedged in the middle and one Category 1 climb near the end.
The race began with a moment of silence for Team Sky masseur Txema Gonzalez, 43, who died yesterday of a bacterial infection according to Agence France-Presse – not the same viral infection that has affected the riders as previously reported. The remaining members of Team Sky did not start today and withdrew from the race.
Before the last climb of the day the five-man breakaway of AG2R la Mondiale’s Jose Luis Arrieta, Astana’s Assan Bazayev, Xacobeo Galicia’s Serafin Marinez, Cofidis’ David Moncoutie, and Bbox Bouygues Telecom’s Johann Tschopp, were 3.5 minutes ahead of the peloton. Moncoutie and Bazayev brokeaway from the other three just before the most difficult section of the climb. It’s here where Arrieta fell and Martinez had problems. Moncoutie then rode out alone and since he had already won two stages in two previous Vueltas he was favorited to win and did by 54 seconds.
In an interview on La Vuelta.com Moncoutie said:
“I knew today was a very good day for me and I was looking for the breakaway. I had very good feelings. And we have worked well in the breakaway. That is why I knew I had many chances to win because I was the strongest of the five and fortunately I was able to finish the job. “
The overall category lineup changed considerably, Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Igor Anton now is in red with Katusha’s Joaquin Rodriguez sharing the same time and Liquigas’ Vincenzo Nibali only 2 seconds behind.
– Saxo Bank’s Frank Schleck fell to 13th from 7th in the overall classification,
now behind 1 minute 47 seconds. AG2R la Mondiale’s Nicholas Roche is now 8th, 1’19” behind.
– Caisse d’Epargne’s Luis-Leon Sanchez needed medical attention twice today and didn’t take the stage as previously predicted.
– Some sites have Katusha rider Joaquin Rodriguez’s name spelled JoaquiM. All name spellings are the same as on the official La Vuelta site and they spell it ending with an N.
Sunday’s Stage 9 will also be mountainous going over 187.7 km (116.6 m) from Alcoy to Calpe. There will be three Category 2 climbs and three Category 3 climbs before the finish at Calpe. There will be a rest day after this stage with the race resuming on Tuesday September 7.
Stage 9 predictions:
– Frank Schleck needs to regain some time that he lost during Stage 8 if he still wants to push for the overall win.
1) MONCOUTIE, David – Cofidis: 5:14:32
2) MARTÍNEZ, Serafín – Xacobeo Galicia: + 54″
3) TSCHOPP, Johann – Bbox Bouygues Telecom: + 54″
4) ARRIETA, José Luis – AG2R la Mondiale: + 54″
5) RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin – Katusha + 1’29”
1) ANTON, Igor – Euskaltel-Euskadi: 32:28:49
2) RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin – Katusha
3) NIBALI, Vincenzo – Liquigas: + 2″
4) TONDO, Xavier – Cervelo Test Team: + 42″
5) BRUSEGHIN, Marzio – Caisse d’Epargne: + 1’10”