Vuelta a Espana 2016: Stages 1-8 Final KM

What a week we have had in Galicia. From the opening team time trial to the duel on La Camperona, La Vuelta a Espana has served a host of  spicy tapas to tempt our Grand Tour appetites. We’ve had drama. We’ve seen heart-breaking nearly wins. We’ve lived through heart-stopping ascents and emotional victories – and we haven’t reached the first rest day yet!

Stage 1: Balneario Laias  to  Parque Náutico de Castrelo de Miño (TTT)

Twenty-one days of Grand Tour madness kicked off with a team time trial. Team Sky found their pace and rhythm in the latter part of the course to take victory by the narrowest of margins from Movistar, with Orica-BikeExchange in third. Pete Kennaugh was first man over the line for SKY, swapping Rapha black and blue for the splendid Vuelta red. Our review is here.

Stage 2: Ourense to Baiona

That Etixx-Quick Step elan was on show again as Gianni Meersman rose out of the pack to claim the first sprint of the race. Bora Argon’s Michael Schwarzmann just edged out Magnus Cort (Orica-BikeExchange) for second. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) got stuck into the frantic crash-marred finale and was rewarded with the red jersey. Our review is here.

Stage 3: Marín to Dumbría Mirador de Ízaro

French flags were flying high as FDJ’s Alexandre Geniez took a fine solo victory and the king of the mountain jersey at the Vuelta’s first summit finish. The last man standing from the break of day was followed home by Movistar’s Ruben Fernandez, with teammate Alejandro Valverde claiming third step of the podium. The attacking Fernandez danced away with the maillot rojo, but it was Simon Pellaud (IAM) who won all of the admiration. Our review is here. 

Stage 4: Betanzos to San Andrés de Teixido

If French flags were fluttering yesterday, it was La Marseillaise at full blast today as Lilian Calmejane (Direct-Energie) took his first Grand Tour win at his first ever Grand Tour! Not only did the youngster time his attack on the Alto Mirador de Veixia to perfection, he also stole every cycling fan’s heart with his victory celebration and his post race interview. BMC’s Darwin Atapuma placed second on the day with Ben King racing to third. El Puma becomes the fourth rider in four days to claim the leaders’s jersey. Our review is here. 

Stage 5: Viveiro to Lugo

After consecutive summit finishes it was back to the puncheurs and sprinters today. Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step) wasted no time claiming win number two a good bike length in front of Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) and FDJ’s Kevin Reza. It was another frantic and crash-marred finish, made so much worse by the race organisers failing to clear obstructions in the last kilometres – Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) crashed into a metal bollard and broke his collarbone (but it could have been so much worse). The overall lead remained with BMC’s Darwin Atapuma. Our review is here.

Stage 6: Monforte de Lemos to Luintra. Ribera Sacra

You just can’t keep the Yates twins away from Grand Tour exploits this year. This time it was Simon with a superbly taken solo win for his Orica-BikeExchange team. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) sprinted out of the chasing bunch ahead of Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) for second. The status quo was maintained with the GC riders with El Puma making another trip to the red jersey podium. Our review is here. 

Stage 7: Maceda to Puebla de Sanabria

It was heartbreak for Simon Clarke (Orica-BikeExchange) and Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez as they were swept up with metres to go to the finish. But I can’t believe anyone wasn’t delighted for IAM’S Jonas van Genechten. His win gives the team a win in each of the Grand Tours this year. Tinkoff’s Daniele Bennati claimed second place, just as team leader Alberto Contador crashed in the final corner. El Puma retains the overall lead but watch out! Alejandro Valverde‘s third place on the stage moves him ever closer with the BIG mountain stages to come. Our review is here.

Stage 8: Villalpando to La Camperona

The stage to the summit finish on La Camperona: 170km of flat followed by 10km of absolute suffering. The break of the day fought it out for the stage win with Katusha’s Sergey Lagutin going from sheer pain to absolute joy as he came over the line. French duo Axel Domont (Ag2r-La Mondiale)and Perrig Quemeneur (Direct-Energie) claimed second and third respectively. The GC battle lit up with Movistar’s Nairo Quintana putting time into all his rivals and claiming the red jersey to boot. As we head into the second of three tough days in the mountains the top four are separated by less than a minute, and that is NOTHING with the climbs that await. Our review is here.

And if you missed it, here’s the first serving of a spicy Vuelta Tweets of the Week.

Header image: As if two wheels isn’t hard enough! Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez Rey/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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