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La Vuelta | Stage 8

03:31:52

Replay

No changes to GC, young rider or KOM

Something of a day off for the GC men. Tomorrow, they'll get a proper workout.
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As predicted, Jakobsen is the new green jersey leader.
Thanks for joining me on the Eurosport live blog today!

Not a foot wrong from Fabio Jakobsen

Jakobsen simply got everything right, after a very long wind-up for the sprint. He was in perfect position at just the right time, piloted ably into position by Florian Senechal. They took a final turn and from there when Jakobsen punched it he got his nose ahead – and nobody else was fast enough to get around him. Dainese rode very well to bag second, creating a gap between Jakobsen and Philipsen that should – by my arithmetic – be big enough to see the Dutchman leapfrog the Belgian into green.
Further back, it was Bora's Jordi Meuus who got fourth, with Juan Sebastian Molano in fifth.

Jakobsen wins the stage!

It's the Deceuninck man who bags the win after a peerless leadout from Florian Senechal.
Alberto Dainese took second place ahead of the green jersey Jasper Philipsen in third.
Jakobsen should take the maillot verde off Philipsen's shoulders after that perfromance. Demare was well out of the podium places.

Flamme rouge!

And Demare, Molano and Jakobsen have their trains with them at the front of the bunch. Philipsen is well out of position.

3km to go – Proper washing machine stuff

Every 5 seconds you have a new team at the front of this peloton. Right now we have Bora and Israel near the front! Michael Matthews is up there.

5km to go – Deceuninck take over

But Ineos still refuse to cede that preferred position at the front of the bunch where their GC men are safest.

It's harum scarum stuff

The various sprint trains are swooping about on this very wide road, which all of a sudden narrows! It's a wonder there wasn't a crash there. Ineos are very prominent now, as are Astana with their sprinter-puncheur Alex Aranburu, not to mention their GC leader Aleksandr Vlasov.

10km to go – Welcome to La Manga

Most people come here for the golf, but today it's all about bike racing. They've just made the last left hander to go from east to north. It's into the sea now! DSM look to be worst positioned on the outside of the turn.

Good effort...

15km to go – Sprinters are marshalling their forces

As the peloton tackles am unprepossessing road on the outskirts of La Manga, it's time for the sprint teams to get themselves organised. Groupama must deliver Arnaud Demare perfectly today so will rely on their large leadout train. Other teams like DSM will look to freelance a bit more with their sprinter Alberto Dainese. Alpecin Fenix are all to the front for Jasper Philipsen, while Deceuninck are somewhat conspicuous by their absence right now.

20km to go – Looks like everyone is back

Well that was fun while it lasted, but we probably won't get any more crosswinds and echelons today. From here they head east, then turn north for the final finishing drag. It's going to be fast and hectic. A poor placing in just one of the many forthcoming turns would be enough to end a rider's hope of winning the stage.
Who knows, we might yet see some opportunistic long-range attacks.

25km to go – Swinging back round

The route of the stage flicks around a bit now and after heading broadly southwards all day, it makes a loop inland, before heading back to the coast and then finishing on a spectacular promontory that reaches out into the Mediterranean itself.

Evidence!

See, it really did happen.

30km to go – It's settling down again

Well that was jolly exciting for not much actual result. A group of around 30 riders remain distanced, but we don't think there's anyone in there that is either a major threat for GC, or a hot favourite for the stage today. James Knox has just attacked out of that group, to try and bridge his way back to the peloton.

35km to go – Splits!

That injection of speed has successfully broken up the peloton. Quinn Simmons is among the riders dropped. He always seems to suffer in the big races.

38km to go – Bike racing!

Astana are trying to force the echelons! They've set Omar Fraile off riding like a bat out of hell all of a sudden and he's immediately strung out the whole peloton.

Davide Cimolai abandons...

The Italian riding for Israel StartUp Nation is the third member of that squad to leave the race. He'd have been their man for today's sprint and one of their few real chances of getting a result here at La Vuelta. It's a big blow.

45km to go – The gap is about as small as they want it to get

Just 1'10" for the breakaway now and to be honest the peloton won't want it to get any smaller than that at this point in the stage. It's a bit too soon to make the catch. Ideally on a finish like this you want to let the escapees kinda dangle off the front, easily catchable when the moment arises, but out there to dissuade any counter-moves.

50km to go – Haig breaks ranks?

Bahrain Victorious came into this race all singing from the same hymn sheet; they were here to ride solely for Mikel Landa in his hunt for a general classification podium. Yesterday, we saw Jack Haig improve his GC position significantly and suddenly he is ranked above his leader in the contest for the red jersey. This morning in an interview with Eurosport,
Haig seemed to suggest that the power dynamic might juuuust be switching a little at casa Bahrain. The line has gone from 'we're all-in for Landa' to 'it's always nice to have options'. Intriguing!

'Incredibly hard day of racing' - Haig reflects on Stage 7 of Vuelta

55km to go – Generous from Blythe

Our expert pundit giving points out pretty freely here if you ask me.
Incidentally, the Spanish for 'firefighter' is 'bombero' which for my money is much more enjoyable.

Yates hints at attacking approach from Ineos

Ineos have looked a little bit flat so far in this race, but their leader Adam Yates suggests that we might see a bit more derring-do from them in what remains of the weekend. If Roglic and Jumbo-Visma are to be deprived of a third red jersey on the bounce, Ineos must throw their weight into attacking early and often.
Yates spoke to us earlier today.

'If you don't try you won't know' - Yates hints at Ineos attacking mindset

60km to go – Demare showing interest

As the peloton came through the intermediate sprint, there was plenty of activity from the main sprinters. Philipsen proved to be the victor of that mini-sprint, with Arnaud Demare coming through in fifth. Encouraging signs for the Frenchman – perhaps he's found his legs. Jakobsen was also trying to get involved, but failed to add to his points tally. Philipsen now leads the green jersey classification by 14 points.
1. Aritz Bagues (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), 20 pts
2. Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi), 17 pts
3. Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), 15 pts
4. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), 13 pts
5. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), 10 pts

70km to go – A feed for the bunch

Musettes are being rummaged, empty bidons discarded. All is calm. All is well in the peloton.
Meanwhile, up the road we see a bit of bike racing break out! Yes, its the intermediate sprint and all three members of the breakaway decide to try and go for it. The winner is Caja Rural's Aritz Bagues, who noses it just ahead of his two companions. That's 20 green jersey points for Bagues and some cash in the back jersey pocket.

90km to go – Exposed flatlands

The peloton just made its way across a particularly barren and flat bit of terrain, with some stands of fruit trees away to their left. We're in the heart of Spain's world-famous tourism industry today, heading down the Mediterranean coast towards Andalucia, so there are plenty of towering high-rise hotels whenever we pass through a town.
All in all, it's quite a serene atmosphere at the moment in the race, they don't seem particularly bothered about the weather conditions and domestiques are relaying back and forth from the cars with plenty of bottles.

100km to go – Still a long ways to race

As the peloton trundles ever-southward, we'll be leaving Alicante and be in Murcia soon, home region of Alejandro Valverde who left the race yesterday. We're just hearing from the Movistar DS Patxi Vila that 'Bala's' injury was "just a collarbone". Vila was also asked if this might have been Valverde's last participation in the race, "you never know with Alejandro. He has been talking about retirement for the last five or six years."
I think Movistar will miss their talismanic old campaigner, but the Vuelta itself will also miss Valverde a good deal. He was a real wildcard element, a rider who could disrupt the regular run of a stage – a threat that needed to be controlled, albeit not an out-and-out favourite for the GC.

110km to go – What's it called right before the echelon forms?

The pre-echelon? The amuse bouchelon? Whatever it's called, there's just the subtlest of hints of it at the moment as the peloton gets strung out, and then lined up across the road. Not enough to break things up, but Jumbo Visma are clearly alert to the potential, with their whole team up the front pulling for Roglic. Ineos sit behind them in the paceline, with Movistar and Astana jostling elbows behind them.

120km to go – Sprinty bois

So we know today's stage is probably destined to be a sprint finish, but who might actually be in with a shout of taking the win?
The first name that occurs is Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin Fenix). He already has two stage victories to his name at this year's Vuelta, and sits in the top position in the green jersey competition.
Just one point behind him, snapping at Philipsen's heels, is Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck QuickStep). The Dutch former national champion has crossed the line with his arms in the air once so far at La Vuelta 2021, and seems to be the man to beat when it comes to slightly tougher, punchy sprints. On the pan-flat gallops he has lacked that tiny little bit of top-speed to beat Philipsen. So far, that is.
The rider who has underperformed most dramatically at this edition of the Spanish Grand Tour is Arnaud Demare. We had expected him to dominate in the sprints here, but thus far he is winless. He'll be trying hard to rectify that today – and has a very dedicated, capable team that will try to help him do so.
The gap to the break now is 3'12".

130km to go – Roglic in high spirits

The big man in red is clearly in a happy place at this race. He's won twice in a row and this is looking more and more like being his third consecutive Vuelta title. He spoke to Eurosport this morning about that most mythical of things in pro cycling; the having of the good legs.

'If you have the legs, you can do everything' - Roglic on all-round talent

150km to go – The gap balloons out

It's already at four minutes. The peloton is very happy with this break's formation, clearly. All three riders are more than 40 minutes down on the maillot rojo.
It'll be interesting to see if the promised crosswinds do materialise today. We have had a few 'boy who cried wolf' stages already in this Vuelta where the fireworks have fizzled rather than flown. Hopefully this is not a repeat of those and the wind coming off the Med blows hard enough to smash the peloton to bits. It's hideous if you're a rider when the echelons form, but whooweee it makes for great entertainment watching them suffer!

160km to go – The sacrificial lambs have been chosen

Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), Aritz Bagues (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) have opened a gap of 15''.
Looks like we have our breakaway, settle in folks.

168km to go – Spain looks nice

I'm manning the live blog today from Glossop, Derbyshire, where it is absolutely bucketing down. I would quite like to be in Spain on the coast of Alicante.

God, I feel old...

I know Jacopo Guarnieri is something of an elder statesman in the peloton, but this is taking the mickey a bit. Who hasn't seen Trainspotting?! Bloody whippersnappers.

173km to go – A day of lost possibilities

There were no major attacks in the GC yesterday, although some guys from the breakaway managed to improve their placings by getting up the road. Instead, the big moments that'll affect the eventual outcome of the race, came from a couple of withdrawals, which will almost certainly send aftershocks reverberating through to the end of La Vuelta. Hugh Carthy of EF Education First Nippo abandoned the stage yesterday quite early on, having not really looked at his best at any point in the race so far.
Alejandro Valverde, by contrast, looked to be in something like his very best form this year, but was forced to withdraw after crashing out while animating the GC fight with an attack. The video of the emotional reaction is below, but it's a tough watch – especially as this was supposed to be Valverde's swansong year.
The stage is underway now, and as yet there's no breakaway. Bit of a thankless one, to be honest, so I can't imagine there are many riders anxious to get up the road.

Good afternoon, chicos!

It's the second weekend of the Vuelta a Espana and we have – on paper – a nice flat stage for the sprinters after a majorly eventful day in the general classification yesterday.
If you missed the action yesterday, here are the highlights.

Highlights: Tears for Valverde as Storer wins Stage 7

How can I watch the Vuelta?

You can watch the race unfold on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app and Eurosport 1 across the three weeks.
An ad-free livestream of the Vuelta a Espana 2021 will run throughout the event on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. You can download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.
You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.

Expert analysis

Adam Blythe and Cherie Pridham discussed the secret to Primoz Roglic's success at Grand Tours as he took the red jersey at La Vuelta in predictable fashion.
It was another devastating statement of intent from the 2019 and 2020 champion at the Vuelta as he again looks set to dominate the latter stages of the Grand Tour he has enjoyed so much success at.
Speaking on The Breakaway couch, Blythe and Pridham broke down the approach of the 31-year-old Slovenian which has proved so effective at Grand Tours for Jumbo-Visma - and at the Vuelta, in particular.

'We never see him attack' - The secret to Roglic's success at Grand Tours as he takes red jersey

"Ultimately, Roglic in the past, the way he has always gained time, if there are time bonuses available, he just chips away at them," Blythe explained.
We never really see him attack, ever, at a Grand Tour, he is always just chipping away at points.
"They didn't do a lot, but he did what he needed to do. That's all he did today. They don't have to control it, they just have to be in the right position and then he can just use that sprint that he's got, the finish he has got at the end of a climb, not many people can match it.
"Slowly, he just plugs away. There have not been many big time gaps, but he has just been able to stretch his lead by doing a minute-and-a-half sprint and he will keep doing that.
"They don't need to put the team at the front to try and demolish everything, there's no point. They can just rely on him at the finish."
Pridham, the sports director for Israel Start-Up Nation, added: "They are just in the right place at the right time. Jumbo were in a good position with Roglic.
"It was never in any doubt and he was never in any trouble or anything like that. All credit to Magnus [Cort] today - he was superb. What a day!"
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You can watch La Vuelta live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries.
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