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29/08/15 - 12:13
Puebla de Don Fadrique - Murcia
Vuelta a España • Stage8

Puebla de Don Fadrique - Murcia

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No changes in the overall standings as Chaves finishes safely to retain his 10-second lead over Dumoulin. Nico Roche is up to third place, however, following compatriot Dan Martin's withdrawal.


Peter Sagan is gesticulating wildly as a camera which is following him as he sheepishly rides the closing kilometre way off the back. His torn shorts reveal some horrible road rash on his left rump. And we still don't know exactly what happened there with what appeared to be a collision with a race motorbike.


Belgium's Stuyven took the win by half a bike length over Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) , with Kevin Reza (FDJ) taking third.


Victory for Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing) - and he's ecstatic with that.


Hansen still has a very small gap - but he will be pegged back on the closing straight...


Long pop for Adam Hansen, who pings off the front in trademark fashion. Can the Australian veteran do it?


The three leaders are caught! It's still unclear who's here and who isn't. Trek Factory Racing set the pace, with Tinkoff, Movistar and Lotto all present. No sign of Peter Sagan, who looks not to have made it back.


The gap is still 13 seconds for the three leaders. It;s very chaotic with numerous riders trying to join and then being reeled in - including, oddly, Omar Fraile, the polka dot jersey, whose team-mate Goncalves is in that trio.


Now Sagan is f-ing and blinding to the medical car, showing the race doctor his lack of shorts, which have almost been ripped from his legs. He's livid - and as well he might be.


CRASH: Sagan is down! It's unclear what happened there but the Slovakian is lashing out at a motobike so perhaps he was taken out there. He's thrown his bike and kicked another.


Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) drives the chase - he's got the bit between his teeth.


Just three riders up the road now as the pack has regrouped: Alberto Losada (Katusha), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) and Jose Goncalves (Caja-Rural). They have 20 seconds.


Nacer Bouhanni has withdrawn after that crash. His Grand Tour history now reads DNF, DNF, DNF, 140th, DNF, DNF, DNF.


It's coming back together near the bottom of the descent so we'll have a better idea of whose here to contest the final sprint soon.


Rojas crashed over the barrier on the same bend that did for Howes - we're just seing replays. The local boy gets back on the bike, but that's why he's no longer here.


Rodriguez and Valverde have made a move on the descent, prompting a reply by Chaves. It's very confusing, with riders all over the road and strung out everywhere.


Local boy Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) has broken out of the pack on the descent.


Over the top they go - and now it's that treacherous twisting descent...


So, it's Brambilla, Concalves and Durasek in the lead, with Henao, Elissonde, Losada, Rojas and Terpstra in pursuit. They're near the summit - just on a small downhill stretch before the final rise. The two groups have now come together, with the pack 10 seconds behind.


Tom Dumoulin, in the white combined jersey, leads the pack with Chaves not far behind. Nieve and Froome are there ahead of the Movistar armada. They trail the leading group by 15 seconds.


Confirmation that Dan Martin has withdrawn from the Vuelta. A sad end to his Grand Tour career with Cannondale-Garmin.


Roosen has cracked, caught by Rojas and a Katusha rider, Alberto Losada. Elissonde has been joined by Terpstra and they've caught the Rojas group. Henao appears to be there too. Brambilla has a rider from Caja Rural with him - Concalves - and a Lampre man.


Numerous riders are trying their luck off the front, including Kenny Elissonde of FDJ.


The LottoNL-Jumbo rider is Timo Roosen. They have a small gap. Ian Boswell sets the pace for Sky back with the pack.


Brambilla has a small gap at the start of the Cresta del Gallo, but he's now joined by a LottoNL-Jumbo rider.


Niki Terpstra of Etixx-QuickStep makes an early move, leading out team-mate Gianluca Brambilla who pings off the front at the start of the second ascent.


It's a fast approach to the second climb with Sky really pushing it through Geraint Thomas. They're leading the team classification thanks to the collective effort of the likes of Froome, Henao, Roche and Nieve.


It's not so much the climb but the descent of the Cresta del Gallo which is proving so tricky. It will be key the second time round when the race is well and truly on...


The last man standing from the break, Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural - Seguros RGA), has been caught. Tinkoff-Saxo lead the pack ahead of the second ascent of the Cresta del Gallo climb. It appears that Dan Martin got back on his bike and is still in the race after that crash - ditto Nacer Bouhanni.


News coming in that Kris Broeckmans has been taken to hospital in a stable condition. Van Garderen has also withdrawn from the race with an expected broken collarbone or broken wrist.


Madrazo is the lone leader, but the Spaniard has just a few seconds over the pack.


Mechanical for a BMC rider. It's not working out well for BMC today, who looked to have lost Van Garderen to a broken collarbone in that earlier crash.


We have another tumbler: a rider from Team Colombia has come off into a ditch on the descent.


Howes has a problem with his bike - the chain appears to be shanked. He slows to allow Madrazo to pass, then comes to a standstill on the side of the road. Interestingly, Howes' incident happened at the exact same moment when Carlos Sastre came off the road ahead of his big crash on the descent of the Cresta del Gallo in stage 15 of the 2001 Vuelta.


Alex Howes crests the summit, moves onto the smoother tarmac surface, then overcooks the first bend, locks up his rear wheel, unclips to steady and comes a cropper beside the barrier! He's back on his bike, but moving very gingerly.


The fans are out in their droves today - and they'll have more of a spectacle on the second ascent, that's for sure.


Van Asbroeck is caught by the pack, which is being led by veteran Sergio Paulinho of Tinkoff-Saxo.


Tinkoff-Saxo, Movistar and Astana are on the front of the pack. Chaves has managed to return after being held up in that crash. Keisse is caught by the peloton. Howes is now the lone leader after shedding Madrazo.


The break has split with Madrazo and Howes leading, with Cattaneo in pursuit. Keisse and Engoulvent were dropped almost instantly, along with Van Asbroeck.


We're onto the first of two ascents of the Cat.3 Cresta del Gallo climb, which is a narrow climb on a coarse gravel surface (on the way up) which peaks out at 11%.


No news yet on Van Garderen or Martin or Bouhanni, for that matter. The American looked the worse off.


Incidentally, Keisse took the spoils at the intermediate sprint at Murcia ahead of Van Asbroeck and Howes. It kicked off the start of the two city loops ahead of the finish - but was overshadowed by that big spill in the pack.


Meanwhile, the break's advantage has come down to just 55 seconds.


Esteban Chaves, the red jersey, was involved in the crash and is currently being pace back by his Orica-GreenEdge team-mates. They are about 30 seconds behind the pack, still being led by Tinkoff-Saxo and Giant-Alpecin.


It looks like it could be curtains for Dan Martin of Cannondale-Garmin - the Irishman is lying on the grass verge of a tram line with his head in his hands.


The worst off looks to be Kris Boeckmans of Lotto-Soudal, who is in the recovery position. Nasty scenes.


Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) has also come down and is still on the deck holding his elbow.


Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) is one big name rider in this crash. It looks like he's broken a collarbone.


CRASH: There's a huge pile-up in the peloton with around 30 riders involved in a massive tangle of bikes.


The Cresta de Gallo climb will be very familiar to two local boys, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), who grew up next to Murcia. Both will be popular winners today should it happen. Valverde's team-mate Jose Joaquim Rojas is also from the area.


Prior to the race, Eurosport expert Juan Antonio Flecha predicted a win for Peter Sagan in today's stage. "I think Peter will definitely win at least two or three stages on the Vuelta," Flecha said. "For example, the Murcia stage (stage eight) is very good for him - I remember Thor Hushovd winning here before [in 2010]. There's a very narrow climb that they will do two times followed by a downhill to the finish. It will be a small group making it to the finish and that's one option for him." You can read the full article below...


Tinkoff-Saxo have come to the front to lend a hand with Giant-Alpecin in reeling in this break. Their man Peter Sagan, winner of stage three, is wearing the green jersey but he's second behind race leader Esteban Chaves in the standings. The Colombian double stage winner has 66 points while Slovakia's Sagan has 61 points, with another stage winner, Alejandro Valverde, in third place on 56 points.


The average speed for the second hour today was 47.3kmph and so it's still pretty zippy. The gap is still just over three minutes for the six escapees, who broke clear after 36km today.


The final rider in this break is 24-year-old Mattia Cattaneo of Lampre-Merida, who rides his first Vuelta after two appearances in the Giro d'Italia. The promising climber is still in the hunt for his first pro win and took a tumble a couple of days ago in the fast run into the finish at Sierra de Cazorla. Lampre have been quite busy so far in this Vuelta, with Ilia Koshevoy starring in yesterday's break, Kristijan Durasek twice getting involved off the front, and Tsgabu Grmay also getting in the mix in stage 5 (and arguing with that man Keisse).


American Alex Howes, 27, has been with Jonathan Vaughter's Cannondale-Garmin team throughout his career - from its Slipstream days, through its various Chipotle/Barracuda/Sharp guises. This is his second Vuelta and his third Grand Tour, with his only previous win coming in stage seven of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge (aka the Tour of Colorado). Earlier this month, he finished second at a stage of the Tour of Utah.


Spaniard Angel Madrazo, 27, is riding his first Grand Tour for Caja-Rural having previously ridden the 2011 Vuelta for Movistar back in 2011. This year Madrazo picked up his first pro win - in the little-known Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika race, outsprinting compatriots Jon Izagirre and Amets Txurruka for the win. Interestingly, Madrazo is something of a cult figure in the South Australian town of Adelaide - all thanks to his appearance in the 2011 Tour Down Under, where he became the adopted foreign favourite of the local fans...


LottoNL-Jumbo must be on cloud nine now following Bert-Jan Lindeman's win yesterday. They have placed Tom Van Asbroeck in this break, the 25-year-old making his Grand Tour debut. The Dutchman joined this season from Topsport-Vlaanderen, with whom he won a stage on the Tour de Wallonie and the Cholet-Pays De Loire race last year. He was third at the U23 World championships in 2013.


The gap is down to 3:15 for the six leaders as they pass through the feed zone. The road still has a little bit to drop before we hit the valley and the intermediate sprint ahead of the double ascent of the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo.


It's the Giant-Alpecin team of John Degenkolb who are going the work on the front of the peloton, hoping to reel in the break and tee up their man for a 10th career win on the Vuelta. Team director Christian Guiberteau thinks today's finish will not suit many of the sprinters, however. "The climb is really hard with percentages reaching 15%. We're going to lose some sprinters along the way," he told "Normally it's a course that suits John but it also suits Alejandro Valverde, who knows the finale like the palm of his hand. And it suits Peter Sagan just as much. Tom Dumoulin did a great climb yesterday. It's a climb that suited his qualities but we're still really impressed by his form and will see how far he can go."


Keisse, the 32-year-old from Etixx-QuickStep, is a track specialist who excels in six-day races - he most notably won the Six Days of Ghent five times. Having ridden the Giro d'Italia for the past three years - taking a memorable win in the final stage of this year's race - Keisse makes his debut in the Vuelta. He was the last rider from the break to be reeled in three days ago - and he'll have his work cut out to deny the sprinters another scalp today.


Veteran Engoulvent, 35, is riding his second consecutive Vuelta and had 15 pro wins to his name, the biggest of which coming in the Vuelta a Andalucia in 2011, not to forget his four scalps in the 4 Days of Dunkerque. The former Cofidis, Credit Agricole and Saur-Sojasun rider was the lanterne rouge of the 2012 Tour de France. With the future of Europcar up in the air, this could be Engoulvent's last Grand Tour...


Both Iljo Keisse and Jimmy Engoulvent have been involved in breaks already in this year's Tour, the Belgian Etixx-QuickStep rider in stage 5 to Alcala de Guadaira (won by Caleb Ewan) and the Frenchman in stage 4 to Vejer de la Frontera (won by Alejandro Valverde).


Chris Froome finished 34 seconds down on Fabio Aru yesterday and dropped from seventh to 12th on GC after struggling on the first major mountain-top finish of race. He spoke to Cyclingnews this morning about the set-back: "I suffered a lot yesterday, I just felt pretty empty. I’m pretty good with the heat, it’s not really an issue for me. It’s just the legs. I think especially after the Tour, it’s tough at this stage, but I’m just going to keep pushing on and hope that in the second and third week I start feeling a bit better.”


The riders covered a large 51.6km in the first hour of racing today, which goes to show how fast the pace was. The best-placed rider in this break is Madrazo, the former Movistar rider, who is nevertheless a huge 27:30 down on Chaves on GC.


We join the race live with 120km remaining and that six-man group now has four minutes over the peloton.


It took a while for a break to form today because of a high tempo start on the downhill road from Puebla de Don Fabrique. Eventually six riders managed to open up a gap: Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick Step), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida) and Ángel Madrazo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).


No overnight withdrawals to report on as 189 riders rolled out of Puebla de Don Fabrique - described as the most beautiful and unspoiled village in the whole of Andalusia - today to get this stage underway. Yet again, there are no clouds in the blue sky - we're due another scorcher.


Yesterday we saw a chink in Chris Froome's armour when the Tour de France champion stuttered on the final climb to La Aplujarra to drop out of the top ten. Dutchman Bert-Jan Lindeman took the win from a break on a day Fabio Aru of Italy underlined his credentials as a real challenger for the red jersey (which was retained by Colombian Esteban Chaves, incidentally).


Hola and welcome to live coverage of stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana - a largely downhill 182.5km stage from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia which culminates in a loop around town that includes two ascents of a punchy Cat.3 climb.