Overall standings: 1. ANTON HERNANDEZ, Igor (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 32h 28' 49"; 2. RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (Katusha); 3. NIBALI, Vincenzo (Liquigas - Doimo) + 2"; 4. TONDO VOLPINI, Xavier (Cervélo Test Team) + 42"; 5. BRUSEGHIN, Marzio (Caisse d'Epargne) + 1' 10"; 6. PLAZA MOLINA, Ruben (Caisse d'Epargne) + 1' 15"; 7. MOSQUERA MIGUEZ, Ezequiel (Xacobeo - Galicia) + 1' 18"; 8. ROCHE, Nicolas (Ag2r - La Mondiale) + 1' 19"
Villena - Xorret de Catí
Vuelta a España - 4 September 2010
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Results: 1. MONCOUTIE, David (Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne) 5h 14' 32"; 2. MARTINEZ, Serafin (Xacobeo - Galicia) + 54"; 3. TSCHOPP, Johann (Bbox - Bouygues Telecom); 4. ARRIETA LUJAMBIO, Jose Luis (Ag2r - La Mondiale); 5. RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (Katusha) + 1' 29"; 6. NIBALI, Vincenzo (Liquigas - Doimo); 7. ANTON HERNANDEZ, Igor (Euskaltel - Euskadi); 8. BAZAYEV, Assan (Astana)+ 1' 32"; 9. TONDO VOLPINI, Xavier (Cervélo Test Team); 10. SASTRE CANDIL, Carlos (Cervélo Test Team) + 1' 35'
Moncoutie was followed home by Serafin Martinez, Johann Tschopp and Jose Arrieta with Joaquin Rodriguez in fifth.
David Moncoutie rolls over the finishing line after an impressive display of climbing in 5hrs 14m to claim the stage win.
At this rate Philippe Gilbert will lose the leader's red jersey. But who will take the lead?
Nibali leads the chasing group over the top too. Followed by Sastre, Anton and Rodriguez.
Igor Anton attacks. Joaquin Rodriguez responds with Vincenzo Nibali on his wheel. David Moncoutie is over the top and on his way to the finish.
David Moncoutie is now out on his own. Carlos Sastre has jumped off the front of the peloton in a bid to cross the gap. The other four riders of the breakaway look a little lost on this monster climb.
But it's Serafin Martinez that has cracked first. David Moncoutie now heads the breakaway which may be down to just one very shortly. The gap is 1m 41s.
The breakaway are getting into their stride on the climb. Jose Arrieta is leading them up but is in danger of being dropped. Meanwhile Liquigas and Katusha are tearing up this climb. The gap is down to 1m 53s.
The front five are really feeling it now as they get into this category one climb. The lead is 3m 51s.
So then this final, nasty, climb will decide today's stage winner - unless we see something quite extraordinary. The peloton are also preparing for the day's final ascent. The lead is 5m 12s.
The breakaway of David Moncoutie (COFIDIS), Johann Tschopp (BBOX), Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA), Jose Arrieta (AG2R LA MONDIALE) and Assan Bazayev (ASTANA) have kept their heads and have managed to stay away. The gap is 5m 30s. The big climb of the day is just 10km away.
The breakaway and the main field can have a bit of a breather as they ride downhill towards the second intermediate sprint. Then the hard work begins for Alto Xorret de Cati. The gap to the breakaway is 5m.
The category one climb of Alto Xorret de Cati now awaits the breakaway. They lead is back upto around 4m.
Puerto de la Carraqueta: 1. Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA); 2. David Moncoutie (COFIDIS); 3. Johann Tschopp (BBOX).
Cervelo are flying along. The lead is now 3m 49s. The breakaway will do amazingly well to stay away at this rate.
The breakaway group looked like they would be away for the day and be left to scrap it out between themselves but Cervelo have different ideas. The peloton could come together before the category one climb four kilometres from the finish. The lead is just 4m 12s.
The Cervélo team have hit the front of the peloton and it has ripped the main field in two. The gap to the breakaway has also come down dramatically to 5m 22s. Looks like the sprinters may have to make do with settling for second best today.
The lead is now 7m 52s. The peloton appear to be content to let the breakaway go to the finish.
The next test will come in the form of Puerto de la Carraqueta - the final category two climb of the day. The lead is rising all the time - currently 6m 50s - so this climb will go a long to deciding who will be there at the end.
The lead quintet of David Moncoutie (COFIDIS), Johann Tschopp (BBOX), Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA), Jose Arrieta (AG2R LA MONDIALE) and Assan Bazayev (ASTANA) are on the descent of Puerto de Torremanzanas. The lead is 5m 41s.
The lead breakaway make it over the top of Torremanzanas: 1. Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA); 2. David Moncoutie (COFIDIS); 3. Johann Tschopp (BBOX). Their lead is around 5m 56s.
The leading group is already very close to the top of Torremanzanas. Elsewhere Branislau Samollau (QUICK STEP) has withdrawn.
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The riders have another category two climb to come before the brutal category one Alto Xorret del Cati.
The lead to the breakaway is 6m 11s. And the summit awaits.
The next climb is the imposing Puerto de Torremanzanas, another category two climb. The leading group is now 5m 50s ahead.
Tejay van Garderen (HTC-COLOMBIA) said this morning: "It will be a tough day. And I think that a small group should reach the end. I suspect that Katusha will try something for Joaquín Rodríguez, but I think the leader's jersey may end up being for Anton or Nibali . As for me, I'm a little nervous". Van Garderen currently sits in sixth place overall.
The first riders are over Puerto de Tudons and begin the descent: 1. Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA); 2. David Moncoutie (COFIDIS); 3. Johann Tschopp (BBOX). Martinez extends his lead over Moncoutie to ten points in the King of the Mountains competition.
Half distance in today's stage. The breakaway sits 5m 45s ahead. None of the riders in the first group - David Moncoutie (COFIDIS), Johann Tschopp (BBOX), Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA), Jose Arrieta (AG2R LA MONDIALE) and Assan Bazayev (ASTANA) - are within ten minutes of overall leader Philippe Gilbert but they will do their chances no harm at all.
The main five are nearing the summit of Puerto de Tudons. The gap to the rest remains at 5m 42s.
Like the temperature - 32C - the breakaway's advantage continues to rise. Currently they are 5m 42s ahead and looking comfortable.
David Moncoutie (COFIDIS), Johann Tschopp (BBOX), Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA), Jose Arrieta (AG2R LA MONDIALE) and Assan Bazayev (ASTANA) are climbing well as a group. They have extended their lead over the peloton to 5m 2s. The next descent and climb could put a massive hole in the GC.
The front five are beginning the climb of Puerto de Tudons - a category two climb. Their advatange is down to 4m 15s.
The leading riders are trying to make this break stick before the three remaining category two climbs. The gap back to the peloton is 6m 35s.
The front five are really moving. The gap zooms up to 3m 54s.
David Moncoutie (COFIDIS) and Johann Tschopp (BBOX) have been joined by Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA), Jose Arrieta (AG2R LA MONDIALE) and Assan Bazayev (ASTANA). The quintet are 2m 10s clear.
Current King of the Mountains leader, Serafin Martinez, reacts to Moncoutie's attack. The Frenchman is third at the moment just eight points behind Martinez.
The pack comes back together then David Moncoutie (COFIDIS) jumps away and is joined by Johann Tschopp (BBOX). GC leader Gilbert is happy to let them go. The gap is 22s.
Giampaolo Cheula (FOOTON-SERVETTO) attacks from the front half of the peloton. The second half - which includes race leader Philippe Gilbert - is 17s back, but closing fast.
A flurry of attacks sees the peloton split in two. Bad news for current race leader Philippe Gilbert is that he's in the second group 18s behind. If you were wondering why there was no news of the first intermediate sprint....it was cancelled due to the number of falls so close to it.
The leading riders are up and over the first climb of the day. The category three Puerto de Onil - 1. Oscar Pujol Munoz (CERVELO TEST TEAM); 2 Serafin Martinez (XACOBEO GALICIA); 3 David Moncoutie (COFIDIS). All three are vying for the King of the Mountains jersey so expect to see more of them throughout the stage.
Riders are falling left, right and centre. Such is the closeness of the pack. Christophe le Mevel (FDJ) is the next one to go down. Yesterday's stage winner Alessandro Petacchi also requires the doctor.
The crash - in which Mark Cavendish was also a faller - has enabled the breakaway of ten to establish a bit of a gap. No time checks as yet.
Real drama now. Dario Cataldo has been joined by nine other riders off the main pack. Futher back current race leader Philippe Gilbert has gone down due to a crash affecting several other riders.
The first break of the day - Jose Arrieta (AG2R LA MONDIALE), Luis Pasamontes (CAISSE D'EPARGNE) and Delio Cruz (XACOBEO GALICIA) try to nip off the front but are quickly reeled in. Quickstep's Dario Cataldo attacks straight away.
We're off and underway. For the first time this year there are no immediate attacks. With the events of the last 24 hours I imagine any real racing will not get underway until we approach the first intermediate sprint after 17.5km.
The riders are moving through the 3.7 kilometre neutral zone in Villena.
The main field will observe a minute silence before beginning today's stage after the death of Team Sky assistant Txema Gonzalez.
Terribly sad news yesterday with the death of Team Sky assistant Txema Gonzalez.
Welcome to live commentary of stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana. It's a 190km trek from Villena to Xorret de Cati. The riders face three category two climbs and a brusing category one climb four kilometres from the finish.