JAIME REINA/Getty Images
Quick-Step Floors’ Julian Alaphilippe mustered a small sprint to win Stage 8 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana on Saturday, while Chris Froome of Team Sky distanced the majority of his rivals to strengthen his position in the general classification.
Only Trek-Segafredo’s Alberto Contador was able to keep up with the Brit, who is now the clear favourite to win the race.
Here’s a look at Saturday’s stage results, via CyclingHub:
TOP 20 – Stage 8 #LV2017🇪🇸 https://t.co/WsgLToGuf6
The current GC standings:
Top 10 GC after stage 8 #LV2017🇪🇸 https://t.co/SH5BPFhGt8
The ride toward the climb of Xorret de Cati profiled as yet another opportunity for breakaway riders, with plenty of action in the general classification expected as well. Here’s a look at the stage profile, via MeridaProRoadRacing:
#LV2017 With the cat1 #XorretdeCati climb just before the finish of stage 8, the overall standings might see some change today. https://t.co/IYpuwXmWmN
There was controversy before the stage even began, as Sunweb sent home their top-ranked rider Warren Barguil. As shared by cycling writer Neal Rogers, Sunweb revealed the decision was made because the climber failed to adhere to the team tactics:
Neal Rogers @nealrogers
Team Sunweb sends Tour de France KOM winner Warren Barguil home from Vuelta a España for “not conforming to team’s goal.” #LV2017 https://t.co/DfWjhfkv6q
BMC Racing’s Rohan Dennis took a tumble in an early crash, but he was able to continue. A huge group of 21 riders formed the early break, while in the background Orica and the rest of the teams tried to put the pressure on Sky by not helping out one bit.
The stage was always going to come down to the final climb, with little action taking place before then. Sky pushed the pace and were joined by BMC and Bahrain at the front when the gradient increased, although the leaders still had a healthy advantage. While the battle at the front was exciting, all eyes were on the GC contenders.
Christophe Ena/Associated Press
BMC and Orica both piled on the pressure, and it was Simon Yates who tried his luck first. Contador managed to distance Froome slightly, only to see the Tour de France winner return, and Froome countered a little later, dropping everyone save the Spaniard.
Alaphilippe won the sprint for the stage win. Contador sits well back in the standings and isn’t a GC threat, and the other contenders, including Vincenzo Nibali and Tejay van Garderen, all lost time.
Sunday’s stage, which has a similar profile to Saturday’s, will be the last before the rest day.