Chaves moves up to fourth overall after brutal finale on stage eight of La Vuelta a Espana

Sat 27 Aug 2016

Colombian Esteban Chaves had to dig deep on the viciously steep climb to the finish on stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana today after the race for the general classification truly sprang to life.

ORICA-BikeExchange teammate and stage six winner Simon Yates crossed the line side by side with Chaves after an extremely difficult end to the stage that was won by Sergey Lagutin (Katusha) from a winning move out of the breakaway.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) moves into the race lead ahead of stage nine, benefitting from a series of attacks that shook the favourites group in the closing kilometres.

Chaves moves up to fourth on the general classification with Yates still in tenth as the race heads into its second week.

Sport director Neil Stephens was pleased with how the team performed and yet again met the objectives for the stage.

“It sounds a bit repetitive,” said Stephens. “But we went into today with the sole objective being to maintain our position on the overall and at the close of the stage we have done that and even gone one better and moved up a spot.”

“Both Esteban (Chaves) and Simon (Yates) did well on the last climb after some really good work from the team kept them at the front as the race hit the ascent.

“Once the climb started to hit 20% and 25% then it was every man for himself and we saw some aggressive riding today. It was a strange day in the sense that we had 170kilometres of completely flat roads and the one demanding climb at the end.

“We knew that there would be two races going on today,” concluded Stephens. “One for the stage and the other for general classification so it wasn’t surprising how the race played out.”

How it happened:

A super fast start to stage eight saw 11 riders go clear within the first ten kilometres and immediately develop a lead of near five minutes such was the lethargy or acceptance of the peloton.

The predominantly flat stage included one vicious 8.5kilometre climb to the finish, ideal terrain for the breakaway to stretch their legs and afford the peloton some respite.

After 60kilometres of racing the 11 leaders had a growing advantage of seven minutes and were maintaining a swift pace over the flat terrain.

With 70kilometres left to race the gap was nine minutes and rising.

Over ten minutes separated the field approaching the final 30kilometres with the stage winner set to come from the breakaway.

Twenty kilometres later and BMC Racing were on the front with the peloton strung out in a line behind them. The gap to the leaders fell slightly below the ten minute mark approaching the climb to the finish.

The breakaway started to fall apart as the attacks began at the foot of the Alto de la Camperona. Three riders went clear led by Johnathan Restrepo (Katusha) and Zico Waeytens (Giant-Alpecin) and gained a small lead.

A few minutes later and the peloton also started the climb and as expected began to thin out with the overall favourites all surrounded by teammates and marking each other very closely.

Restrepo was now alone in the lead having dropped Waeytens and pushed on into a 15second advantage.

ORICA-BikeExchange were well placed at the front of the bunch with Chaves and Yates tucked in behind Jens Keukeleire and Damien Howson as Movistar began to up the pace significantly.

Restrepo was caught and passed only 1,300metres from the line by four of his former companions including Lagutin.

Lagutin went on to win the stage as further down the hill the battle between the race favourites began for real. First Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) split the selection with riders struggling to hold the wheel of the Briton and only Quintana and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) able to follow.

Next up was Quintana who blew away both Froome and Contador with Chaves and Yates further back with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) as the 20% gradient began to take its toll.

Quintana held out until the finish with Contador eventually passing Froome just before the line as Chaves and Yates came home a few seconds later.

Stage nine takes place tomorrow and covers 164.5kilometres from Cistierna-Orviedo to Alto del Naranco - a tough mountain stage with five categorised climbs, four of which come in the final third of the stage.

Vuelta a Espana stage eight results:

1. Sergey Lagutin (Katusha) 04:09:30
2. Axel Domont (AG2R-La-Mondiale) 00:00:10
3. Perrig Quemeneur (Direct-Energie) 00:00:17
20. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:05:38 

General classification after stage eight:

1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 29:55:54
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:00:19
3. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 00:00:27
4. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00.57