Rain chaos in La Vuelta as Arndt takes stage win and Lopez loses red jersey
Miguel Angel Lopez lost the overall lead of the Vuelta to Nicolas Edet as Nikias Arndt claimed the stage win on another dramatic day in the tour of Spain.
Dreadful conditions in Stage 8 of La Vuelta caused chaos in the race, with a downpour denying the peloton the option of catching up time on the final descent. This allowed the 21 riders from the breakaway a free run at the line, taking huge time advantages in the general classification.
Stage winner, Arndt, was able to overhaul Spanish rider, Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural - Seguros), at the line to take the stage win. With Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) safe in the group of pursuers and, presumably, content to take the first Grand Tour leader's jersey of his career. The Frenchman is unlikely to have a major say at the end of the three weeks, but in the short term it saw Lopez lose the overall race lead.
From the outset, the stage looked likely to go to the breakaway, with most of the sprinter's teams declining to help in the chase. For the majority of the day, Lopez' Astana Team took control, but when the heavens opened at the top of the Puerto de Montserrat any hope of pegging back the escapees to preserve red were washed away in the deluge. Heavy rain, slippery surfaces and terrible visibility ruled out all but the most cautious of descending, so the 21 leaders were allowed their day of glory.
The chaotic finale was brought to life by an attack from American rider, Peter Stetina (Trek Segafredo), who launched clear of the break on the lower slopes of the Puerto de Montserrat. He was followed by Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) and Fernando Barcelo (Euskadi - Murias). There then followed a period of continuous attacking and counter-attacking, with virtually all members of the break spending some time either off the front or back.
It wasn't until the final handful of kilometres that the group of escapees came back together, with every rider striking out for himself in the final sprint for the line.
The general classification now has a strange complexion, with Edet's fellow escapees Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Merdia) and Carl Hagen (Lotto Soudal) also breaking into the top ten as a result. With serious high mountains on the menu tomorrow as the race enters Andorra, it's unlikely that any of the trio will remain there into the race's first rest day. There were no changes in the leadership of any of the other jerseys, with Nairo Quintana retaining green, Lopez keeping white and Angel Madrazo holding onto his polka dots.
Join us tomorrow at 1:54pm for stage 9 in Andorra.