Vuelta a España Stage 8 Preview

An uphill finish that’s made for Peter Sagan, the Slovak has had a slow start to the race but popped up to take second place yesterday. Meanwhile the main GC contenders will try to rest ahead of tomorrow’s big summit finish.

Tony Gallopin, Pozo Alcón

Ace in the hole: revenge may be a dish best served cold but Tony Gallopin took what he could in the searing heat. After breaking a rib in the French championships and then leaving the Tour de France midway, he made amends with a punchy stage win, the end to a lively stage finish with attacks galore. There was crashes too on the narrow road above Ceal both on the rough ascent and the twisty descent with Michael Woods the last breakaway rider to get reeled in, the catch delayed by a crash. After flurry of moves Jesus Herrada went solo on the road into El Pozo Alcon but struggled to get a gap and Gallopin countered, got across for a brief moment in the slipstream and powered on with the chasing group behind lacking enough support riders to close the gap, Rafał Majka did a long turn for Peter Sagan but this only helped the Frenchman push out his lead. Among the crashes was Michał Kwiatkowski who lost a little time and didn’t have any team mates to help.

The Route: 195km to the town of Almaden, famous for its mercury mines which are now a tourist attraction. The Alto de Espenares is a gradual climb.

The Finish: it’s uphill in the final kilometres but no more than 3% and all on a big wide road before a brief dip and then 2km at 4% to go under the 1km to go banner. Then comes a tight 180 degree bend and a 6-7% ramp to a hairpin and from the exit it’s 300m to the line at 5-6% before easing to the line.

The Contenders: Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) had a slow start to the Vuelta but coped fine with the climbing yesterday and then overhauled Alejandro Valverde, also a contender, in the uphill finish and here’s a finish to suit him even more.

Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) can be quick in a sprint too and should be more confident. But his problem is that if he’s present, he’ll also find the likes of, Sagan, Valverde and Michał Kwiatkowski. Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) can feature in uphill finishes like this but it might not be steep enough for him. We’ll see if Matteo Trentin, Nacer Bouhanni and Elia Viviani can contest, the three fastest sprinters in the race but also versatile riders too.

This is the Vuelta so the breakaway has a chance. Tomorrow is the first big mountain stage so several breakaway specialists will be waiting for that… and some heavier riders will try today instead, think Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) or Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo).

Peter Sagan
Elia Viviani, Matteo Trentin, Alejandro Valverde
Kwiatkowski, Gallopin, Teuns, Bouhanni

Weather: warm and sunny, 34°C and a light tailwind for much of the stage.

Tune in: the finish is forecast for 5.10pm CEST.

42 thoughts on “Vuelta a España Stage 8 Preview”

  1. Cycling podcast mentioned yesterday the general feeling around this Vuelta is it’s missing some of the buzz of previous years, yet really it’s only missing Froome and Contador… even so… I have been thinking the same… it feels a little flat?

    Is anyone else finding this? Even in the year of Aru vs Dumoulin it still felt special and there weren’t big names galore.

    What’s going on?

    Is it the stages in the first week have a different feel?
    Is it just because it’s the first week?
    Or because Sky have won so many GT’s in a row it’s a bit strange they’re not here with a real favourite?
    The heat?
    Porte and Nibali exiting the GC race giving more of a training race feel?
    A hilly worlds?

    I can’t quite put my finger on it… I’m excited to see a lot of the next generation, maybe the first mountain stage was just a bit of a disappointment tactically? Quintana feeling negative, LottoJ not backing up their attack, negativity allowing Yates to ride away?

    • 3 stalwart Vuelta contenders of the last 5-6 years have been Froome, Contador and Purito Rodriguez. I think the race is missing them and potentially Chaves. I also think, dare I say it, it is missing the usual array of punchy finishes.

      • I have heard all the complaints about the start list but I think the race is loaded. Nairo, Nibali, Aru, Valverde have all won grand tours before, Simon Yates was one stage away from winning the giro, and MA Lopez, Uran, Pinot, and Zakarin have all podiumed. Add Dan Martin, Porte, and Kelderman and that’s twelve serious contenders. The world championships is casting a big shadow over the race and the absence of Landa, Bernal, and Roglic is significant, but personally, I am not missing Froome or Contador.

      • The only boring thing is the Gejammer.
        In every other Vuelta, people here are complaining about the usual array of punchy finishes. I can’t take all the complaints here serious anymore. This Vuelta is interesting, and if you people can’t watch a race without the shoppingcart pushing robo and hiss team, just don’t watch it.

    • Maybe some of us fans are a little tired after a long and exciting season, because for drama the finale to stage 6 was intense with the crash and headwind double.

      I think having Sagan and Porte and Nibali out the back may have had an influence. Sagan and Nibali in particular sprinkle stardust on the road when they are in form.
      But looking at the front of the race there has been a lot of very hard riding by the winners in heat and sometimes headwinds.

      I am beginning to struggle with Eurosport UK/Ire commentator who talks too much and too often often in ignorance. It may be tarnishing tell race a bit.

      But, to be fair, we do see comments on “boring” (my word not yours) starts to Grand Tours quite often. And then the long narrative of the race plays out to our general satisfaction.

      • I don’t think the race has found its narrative yet, it’s slightly….what’s the word…not chaotic, perhaps inconsistent?
        Early days though, as said above, the story unfolds as time progresses.

        • +1

          There’s nothing wrong with the start list. Last year the race had a higher profile, and it had the ready made narrative that Froome had made it clear he was going for the win.

          The problem this year is that there are no clear competitors. Some competitors are not on their game (e.g. Nibali) and others seem focused on the World Championship. Certainly the race parcours has not helped. Whereas a series of sprint finishes might fire up the sprint competition the organisers have had them climbing mountains from day 2. GC riders have therefore not wanted to commit too much energy to the race so early on as they know they will need their riders later on. As such the breakaway has been king. But this means that we no more know who is running a serious campaign, to those who are there to get the miles in. Sunday may start to drive the narrative.

      • … Eurosport commentators… suggest you mail Eurosport and complain. The more of us who do it the better. Sean Kelly is OK, he speaks fast but he knows what he’s talking about. But Carlton Kirby – OMG!!!

        • Agree re Kelly, who occasionally sounds a little exasperated with Kirby or fails to respond to one of his inane comments.

          As for Eurosport, Kirby seems to be a favourite with them, e.g. his getting the commentary slot at the recent Le Mans 24 hour race…judging by comments in other forums, he doesn’t endear himself to motorsport fans either.

      • I think you’ve got the nail on the head here – it is supporter fatigue… that is what I’m feeling… the Giro was the long awaited Froome/Dumoulin duel, which I for one only really realised a month later, and having thought their careers wouldn’t overlap at withers peaks, we were treated to what will likely go down as a historic tour…

        It was so great yes… I am burnt out… the Tour fizzled but I’d already exploded…

        And now, I’m aware of boring comments at the start of Tours, but I’m not sure I really am going to be able to connect with whatever narrative awaits? I’m a bit gutted Nibali, Porte lost time and now Pinot, I don’t expect Kwiat nor Valverde will hold on, I’m interested to see Bennet and Buchman and Galloping but really I see this as being Yates/Lopez/Quintana which weirdly doesn’t grab me as the negatives of those who lose will outweigh the positive – i.e. If Yates can’t hold on it will be a second occurence, if Quintana can’t mount an assault it will another step down and if Lopez can’t it will have people questioning his true potential – I struggle seeing any beating an in form Dumoulin anyway….

    • Could the quality of the coverage be a factor? Where other races have upped their game the vuelta coverage is ok but perhaps not up to the standard of the rest?

    • I think many people, who watch cycling these days are not used to what I call „real racing“ like you might see it these days only in smaller french, italian, belgian, spanish races, which I love to watch much more than wt races. Many people are used to controlled racing, one super team controlling everything and a race having a clear narrative. They are not used to have equality in races.

      I never understand people, who (mis)take a rider winning from a strong team as „the best rider“. He obviously is not, we don‘t know his strength, he only is the one with the strongest team. Now, that we are closer to equality and reality, the racing opens up and ever more people get their chance – and the whole perspective of some viewers comes undone. It might feel chaotic and overwhelming, thus underwhelming to some. They miss an arc. Especially those, who watch cycling as entertainment, where the big stars have to entertain and not so much as sport, where the best shall win. I‘ve read a -to me- horrible comment of someone saying it is a shame that Gallopin won, because the stars should win races. Incomprehensible to me, to say it very, very polite.

      This expectation was groomed by the uci and tv the last years. Unfortunately. Instead of educating fans, the uci took the shortcut to get them watching through „stars“ and one line commercials. Just think about the horrible, cringeworth „gala“ cookson invented and sold to rcs to push aso out. To someone like me, watching races for 30 years and having never a favourite rider (although I enjoy some rider‘s style more), because I am a fan of cycling, not of a star or a nationality, the racing finally feels real again. I simply want honest racing, where eveybody has a chance according to their ability and so I love the kind of racing in this Vuelta.

  2. > some heavier riders will try today instead, think … Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo).

    Isn’t Felline banged up from his crash yesterday? I dropped him from my fantasy team coz in my experience pro riders are so finely tuned that even a minor crash means a major deterioration in performance. Felline looked pretty bad after his crash, and he was way back on stage 7 – over 5 mins behind. Is he really in enough shape to be a contender for this stage?

  3. Sagan obviously is the type of rider that disappoints unless he wins. But in fact, he already was third in the stage that Viviani won. Trentin, on the other hand didn’t get further than 5th yet but is mentioned as among the three fastest sprinters in the race. I don’t have the records handy but I don’t think he won many sprints against Sagan.,flat or uphill. I do agree that he is one of the fastest men likely to be at the front after a 7 percent ramp though.
    Based on the results of the two sprints we’ve had Van Poppel is the the third fastest sprinter, but he is not so keen on hills so I don’t see him winning today.
    One rider who has been consistently close to the front is Fraile. But this may not yet be his stage.

    • Trentin doesn’t seem to have hit the heights of his Quick Step days, particularly the last couple of years of his career at the Belgian team when he seemed to go up a notch or two?
      Is that more of a reflection on the extreme strength of QS, or perhaps I’m just so used to seeing him in his former black / blue colours ?

    • Yeah, there are obvious reasons for Bardet’s TdF focus but it’s occurred to me before that if he ever wants to win a GT then the Vuelta is clearly the one which is most closely suited to his abilities.

      • Bardet may never win the TdF. I guess many here will say he will never. But as a 27-year-old with two podiums among four top-six places since 2014 I think the day he makes the Vuelta his season goal is the day he concedes all hope of a Tour win. I think he’s determined not to die wondering and to continue to test his true potential. To me that warrants some respect and is honouring sport ahead of professional result-collecting.
        Anyway, that’s straying from a stage preview of the Vuelta, which at this early stage is shaping up to be a very open race in which no one rider or team is dominant. I’ll take that over most recent Tours any day.

  4. If the Vuelta is lots of riders shot at redemption then by definition it is a ragbag of form and fitness. However…. this helps S.Yates as there are few bona fide threats. A rare golden chance for him wih Nibali Porte Pinot Kelderman Zakarin unfit or unlucky and Froome Thomas Dumoulin Bardet Roglic Landa absent. Hope he can deal with 3 weeks in the heat. Movistar duo his biggest threats.

  5. Dave’s right. It’s a golden opportunity for Simon Yates to win a GT. And I think he’ll do it – as long as he’s learnt the Giro lessons. Maybe Wilco Kelderman will give him a run for his money. I suspect Quintana’s best days are behind him.

  6. Reading through the comments here it’s clear what this Vuelta needs to be “exciting” – an English-speaking (preferably British) rider in the Maillot Rojo!!! Otherwise, it’s dull, dull, dull.
    I’d predict that should this happen there won’t be much discussion about his win being less-than-stellar due to any relative lack of competition. Those claims seem to be reserved only for non English-speaking Grand Tour winners.

      • Larry T reads people’s comments and makes up the subtext…

        Think I’ve said here I wanted Pinot to win.

        It’s nothing to do with a Brit winning.

        • Larry didn’t say every Brit does think so. But a lot of folks here on this site lament about how there is no Froome to cheer for, how “weak” the field is and if a Yates should win.
          Also some people write a lot of subtext, without ever realising that they do.

  7. I definitely feel like it’s lacking a bit of the excitement of previous years. My best explanation is the lack of much positive action in the GC. Many contenders have been dropped (and are no longer contenders) but not many have done anything to actively take time. Kwiato laid down an early marker and Simon Yates showed signs of his exciting Giro form, but each has only really shown themselves once or twice in over a week. It’s felt rather precessional due to the lack of much day-to-day narrative and a sequence of four rather similar stages. In a race with so many summit finishes, it’s taking a long time for the GC action to get going.

  8. We are only in 7 days, and everyone’s post have us climbing into the time penalty bus ready to go home!

    Tomorrow’s Sundays stage will provide drama and the cream will rise to the top.

  9. Wow what a lot of banter on here! I’ve only gotten into watching cycling on TV in the UK in the last 4 or so years. I play a range of Sports Prediction games on a pretty well known free UK/South African website called Superbru. Its just for pride no money. Cycling isn’t that popular, only 2600 playes for La Vuelta but about 5000 for the TdF. They had over 250k for the FIFA World Cup by comparison. To play I must pick 1 rider out of about 15, in 4 bands each stage. I’m doing pretty good so far and was ‘Global 1st’ for one day.

    Anyway I read this site and about 4 others for punditry advice. This has by far the most comments, however the previews don’t show up until the morning before the stages, so I often miss them. I just wanted to say how interesting your comments are. I think the GC guys are biding their time and the 32c plus heat has had a huge impact. The Spanish seem OK with it though. The French & Aussies too. Those from cooler climes are more hampered. Perhaps it won’t hot up until it cools down? Riders can only race who are put in front (next to & behind) them, its all relative. There are enough big names for me. Carlton Kirby has a tough job filling about 5 hours a day. Sean Kelly (was he in Father Ted?) works well as an antidote if you overdose on him, as does fast forwarding to the summits & sprints!

    • Carlton Kirby needs to realise that he doesn’t _have to_ fill in 5 hours a day; that it’s ok to shut up from time to time and let the pictures do the talking, instead of filling every moment with whatever random inanity is passing through his head.

  10. +1 David. Kelly clearly gets exasperated with him sometimes. But then again Kelly can resort to platitudes sometimes and he could say so much more.
    Still, I think we’d notice less or at least moan less if the Vuelta was in top gear. But it seems a little flat so far compared to recent years. Hopefully today’s mountain stage will change that.

    • I found a quiz on a Cycling site once. You had to decide which were spoof Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) sports reporting comments and which were actual live ones. It was surprisingly hard! Mr Kirby featured prominently. I like Brian Smith’s dry comments and the stories in general about hotels, restaurants and hairy driving moments. I wish James Richardson did Cycling instead of just football on TV (BT Sport, UEFA CL) he knows his cycling. Phil Liggett was good too. Boardman & Millar I can stomach too, on ITV4, when I just want highlights. Should be a good un’ today btw! My Fantasy Picks. Valverde, Rolland, Brambilla, De Marchi. There are tactical reasons behind some picks as you get points for keeping & taking jerseys and the climbs en route get you more points than podium places for example. I stops pickers basing it on bookies odds too much.

      • Another great Kirby/Partridge moment yesterday as Ben King was about 9.8km from the finish:

        “‘Stand by my side’ was the song by Ben E. King. Well this man has got nobody at his side, Sean. Apart for the invisible will of everbody to do it.”

        Couldn’t even get the song title right!

Comments are closed.