Vuelta a Espana stage 8: Jay Vine doubles up with second summit victory
Australian dominates the day's climbs to take over king of the mountains competition.
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Jay Vine doubled up with a dazzling ride to victory on the stage 8 summit finish at the Vuelta a España.
The Australian Alpecin-Deceuninck rider went clear in an early move, scooping maximum king of the mountains points across all six of the categorized climbs, taking over the lead of the KoM classification, and soloing to stage victory.
It was a stunning display and saw him reach the line 43 seconds clear of Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) and Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) four seconds further back in fourth.
Race leader Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) was best of the rest, driving towards the finish with only Enric Mas (Movistar Team) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) for company. They were at 1:20, with Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers) conceding 13 seconds and losing further ground in the overall standings.
Evenepoel’s other rivals were even further back, putting him in the driving seat coming towards the end of this phase of the race. He ended the stage 28” clear of Mas, 1”01 in front of Roglič, and almost two minutes in front of Rodríguez and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers).
Vine’s success was his second stage win in three days, following on from his first-ever Grand Tour victory on Thursday.
“At the start, literally on the first climb I thought, ‘I don’t know if we are going to be able to stay away,’” he said. “They seemed to be chasing us pretty intently. I decided to definitely target the first couple of KOMs. But then in the valley we had a really good group. The FDJ guys had three in the move, and Quick-Step were just controlling.
“From that point on I went, ‘okay, if I can get the KOM points without too much of a struggle, I will go for them.’ But the stage was definitely the main goal.”
He made his move with just over 6km remaining. He hadn’t planned to go at that specific point, but responded to the race situation and then went all in.
“Lutsenko [Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan)] did a starting move. I was sort of in the wheel so I decided to follow. After he pulled off there was no indication that he was going to do a second attack or anything like that, so I decided that—it is about a 25 minute effort from here, similar to what I did two days ago—I decided to keep the pressure on.
“After about a minute and a half I looked down and there was no wheel. I forced myself to get to that next hairpin. After that hairpin I looked back and there was no-one, so I kept going.’
He ends the day with the second Vuelta stage win of his career and also a crushing lead in the king of the mountains classification. The previous leader Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH) crashed out during the stage, and Vine is now a clear 24 points ahead of Soler.
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) made it into the day’s break and won the intermediate sprint, with the points there seeing him overtake green jersey Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) by 5 points in that competition.
How it played out
Stage 8 of the Vuelta a España shaped up to be a humdinger, with the 153.4km race from Pola de Laviana to Collau Fancuaya featuring no less than six categorized climbs. The pressure was thrust on the riders immediately with the second category Alto de la Colladona (km 9.8) rearing up very soon after the start line, and then being followed by the similarly-ranked Alto de la Mozqueta.
These would then followed by a trio of category three ascents, the Alto de Santo Emiliano (km 66.5), the Puerto de Tenebreo (km 98.1) and the Puerto de Perlavia (km 113.8), and then the big concluder, an inaugural Vuelta finish atop the first category Collau Fancuaya.
This was 10.1 km in length, averaged 8.5 percent and had pitches of 19, 17 and 17 percent, including a very steep final kilometer.
There were four non-starters in Pola de Laviana, with Nikias Arndt, Mark Donovan (Team DSM) and Anthony Delaplace (Arkea-Samsic) exiting due to COVID-19. Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) also left the race with illness, but tested negative for the virus.
Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan) was the first to attack and was joined on the first climb by Davide Villella (Cofidis), Mark Padun (EF Education-EasyPost), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), Robert Stannard, stage 6 winner Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Elie Gesbert (Arkea-Samsic).
The septet was then joined by Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Oscar Cabedo (Burgos-BH), with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates), Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) also joining up.
Carapaz subsequently dropped back, leaving 14 out front.
Vine became the virtual king of the mountains leader when he beat Soler and Pinot to the top of the opening climb. He and Soler pushed on, while the rest of that break was caught.
Another move goes clear
Lutsenko had another go soon afterwards and was accompanied by Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), who caught the leaders approximately 25km in. They had a one minute lead over the bunch at that point, prompting Pinot to leap clear in pursuit with teammate Sebastien Reichenbach.
Armirail dropped back to aid Pinot and Reichenback’s pursuit and this trio got across at km 40. The peloton was 2:35 behind there, having decided to let the break go.
Vine took the prime atop the Alto de la Mozqueta, beating Pinot and Soler to consolidate his virtual lead in the KOM classification. Meanwhile the rider wearing that jersey, Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH), abandoned the race after crashing and suffering a suspected fractured collarbone and concussion.
Vine beat Pinot again to the top of the next climb, the Alto de Santo Emiliano, with the peloton going past the same point 4:14 later. The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team of race leader Remco Evenepoel was not panicking, but was riding tempo to keep the gap respectable.
Flooring it on the final climb
Vine continued where he began on the Puerto de Tenebreo, once again scoring maximum points ahead of Pinot, and did the same on the penultimate climb of the day, the Puerto de Perlavia. The break raced on from there to the intermediate sprint point where Pedersen won ahead of Soler, Lutsenko, Hamilton and Armirail, amassing 20 points and edging five points clear of the green jersey Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Soon afterwards the Dane was dropped from the break, his mission accomplished for the day. The nine remaining leaders pressed on and still had 3:15 starting the final climb, 10.1km to go.
Ineos Grenadiers massed near the front of the final climb, ready to strike if Evenepoel showed any signs of faltering. However the race leader’s teammate Julian Alpahilippe drove the pace onwards, revealing the intent of the race leader.
Lutsenko ramped up the pace with 6.2km to go, but Vine countered soon afterwards. Pinot briefly hung on but blew up, with the Australian winner of stage 6 pushing forward alone in impressive fashion. Pinot and Taaramäe continued to lose ground and were joined by Soler.
Vine had a 28 seconds advantage over the trio with 4km remaining. Taaramäe cracked, leaving two in immediate pursuit, while behind Geoghegan Hart accelerated and was marked by Evenepoel. The red jersey subsequently took over, dropping Geoghegan Hart and many of the other contenders, and reducing the list of that group to just Enric Mas (Movistar Team), Primož Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Simon Yates (BikeExchange Jayco) and Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers).
He continued turning the screw to shed the latter two and sprinted in 1:20 behind a jubilant Vine, and slightly ahead of Mas and Roglič.
There may be a long way to go yet in this race but the 22 year old has posted clear intent of taking red all the way to Madrid.
Results will be available once stage has completed.