Vuelta 2018: Stage 8 – Valverde makes it a double, Molard stays in red

It’s been noted that the final few kilometres looked as though the organisers didn’t think this would be a bunch sprint. But as is usual in this Vuelta, there’s always a surprise somewhere. Because it was a bunch sprint. And that plucky young sprinter Alejandro Valverde let the world champion Peter Sagan lead him out to victory by a bike length. Although there was no movement in the GC placements, Valverde has decreased his deficit to the red jersey of Rudy Molard by 10 bonus seconds.

Rider of the Race

With temperatures hitting over 40°C and the peloton already having a crazy week, it looked for much of the stage that the break would get away, holding over 12mins coming up the midpoint of the race. Three breakaway riders, Thiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin), Jorge Cubero (Burgos-BH), and Hector Saez (Euskadi-Murias), got away almost from the get-go but once the sprinter teams of QuickStep, Bora and Trek made up their mind to take it to the bunch, they were riding out in front on borrowed time.

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With the final few kilometres more puncheur than sprint-tastic and the QuickStep train coming undone, it was really Peter Sagan‘s race to lose. He plowed through the riders, leaving them in his sweat-stream and must have been thinking about his victory salute when a streak of green went past him and beat him by a bike length. That crafty Alejandro Valverde, who was quiet all stage, hopped from wheel to wheel until he caught Sagan’s and with an extra kick, took the victory right out from under the world champion. That surely makes him one of my riders of the race. And with so many of the other GC hopefuls feeling hopeless, Valverde really is sitting in the cat-bird seat at the moment, only 37sec down from Rudy Molard in red.

But the other rider of the race is Thiago Machado – one of the three who spent most of the day out in the break. It was late in the race when the peloton were bearing down on the trio that Machado decided to go out on his own – and his two Spanish companions gave him their blessing. Granted, he didn’t get very far, as the peloton had the pedals to the metal but after 190km of racing out on their own in the blazing sun, the fact that he still wanted to take the stage win brings joy to this cycling fan’s heart. The disappointment of not being named Most Combative in the stage (that went to Cubero)  really was a slap in the face for the Portuguese rider.

The final word


Stage results

1 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 4:35:54

2 Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) same time

3 Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) s/t

4 Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) s/t

5 Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) s/t

GC standings

1 Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) 31:20:34

2 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:37

3 Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) +0:48

4 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:51

5 Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:59

6 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) +1:06

7 Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) +1:11

8 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +1:14

9 Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +1:18

10 Enric Mas (Quick Step Floors) +1:23

All the jerseys

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Leader’s jersey: Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ)

Points jersey: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Climber’s jersey: Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)

Combined jersey: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Team classification: Astana

Official Vuelta website is here;  Full stage review from cyclingnews

Header: © Tim de Waele/Getty Images

2 thoughts on “Vuelta 2018: Stage 8 – Valverde makes it a double, Molard stays in red

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