- - Vuelta a España 2023 Stage 8

Vuelta a España 2023 Stage 8

photo credits @ La Vuelta

The Vuelta a España GC battle erupted once again on the steep slopes of Xorret de Catí, with three-time race winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) outsprinting Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) at the line after a big selection on the stage 8 climb.

Meanwhile, Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) rounded out the podium just behind, with the trio leading home an elite group which also included Jumbo-Visma men Jonas Vingegaard and Sepp Kuss as well as UAE Team Emirates pairing João Almeida and Marc Soler, and Movistar’s Enric Mas.

As a result, Roglič clawed back four bonus seconds on Evenepoel, who in turn takes two on Ayuso while Mas, Vingegaard, Almeida, Kuss and Soler finished a further two seconds back.

The red jersey has also changed hands after Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) dropped early on the double-digit gradients of the final climb, finishing 13th at 1:10 down, meaning that Kuss is the new Vuelta race leader.

“Nice, eh? Now I’m even more relaxed,” Roglič said after the stage. “It was already nice but most of all I’m happy that I recovered from the crash. Just enjoying now and we go day by day,” said a jubilant Roglič.

“You always hope for the best. The guys did a really amazing job, controlling the really strong breakaway. Then we had no option in the end. It was hard. I did it for the first climb and also I didn’t know the finish really. In the sprint it’s always a bit of a gamble but I had the legs, and I could do it. At least three now, no? But maybe there’s still someone coming,” he added. 

Race Highlights

A large breakaway defined most of the day, but Groupama-FDJ and Jumbo-Visma worked hard to limit their advantage throughout the afternoon, with Lotto Dstny’s wily veteran Thomas De Gendt going on the attack almost immediately as the peloton left Dénia on their 165 kilometers excursion through the Costa Blanca interior. With five categorised climbs on the menu but no summit finish, the peloton knew that today’s stage may favor a breakaway.

A small group containing Cristian Rodriguez, Antonio Tiberi (both Bahrain Victorious), Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Oier Lazkano (Movistar) and Javier Romo (Astana Qazaqstan), eventually bridged their way to De Gendt during the last 80 kilometers, later dropping the Belgian rider.

From there, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious), Andreas Kron (Lotto Dstny), Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) and Oier Lazkano (Movistar Team) managed to rein the escapees along the Puerto de la Carrasqueta. However, the quartet was later reeled in at the base of the Xorret de Cati.  

With 5 kilometers to go, Soudal Quick-Step up the ante, with Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) attacking, a move that was closely marked by Roglič, Vingegaard, Mas, Ayuso, Soler – with Almeida and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) battling just behind, later bringing the American rider back into the fold during the last kilometer. 

Evenepoel continued to lead along the decent, putting Mas in some difficulty heading downhill.

However, it all came back together inside the final kilometre, setting up a grandstand sprint finish. At the line it turned out to be an Evenepoel-Roglič head-to-head battle, with the Slovenian securing what would be a double victory for Jumbo-Visma as Kuss raced into the red jersey at the expense of the long-dropped Martinez.

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