Spanish rider Joaquim Rodriguez took the overall leader’s jersey on Saturday after he won his second stage of this year’s Vuelta a Espaa, the eighth stage, a 177.3km ride from Talavera de la Reina. Rodriguez, who also won Wednesday’s stage, beat home Italian Michele Scarponi while Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands was third. Overnight leader Sylvain Chavanel faded on the final climb of the day and finished well off the pace.
Rodriguez leads his Katusha team-mate Daniel Moreno by 32 seconds in the overall standings while Danish rider Jakob Fulsang is another two seconds adrift – Chavanel is a minute off the leader. The stage had been enlivened by a three-man breakaway early on but the trio of Matteo Montaguti, Heinrich Haussler and Adrian Palomares were swept up with 10km remaining.
Spanish rider Angel Marazo seized his chance to launch a solo break but his dreams of glory were soon finished off by Rodriguez. The ranks of the top class sprinters thinned out further as Spain’s three-time world road race champion Oscar Freire and American Tyler Farrar saw their races come to a premature end.
Freire, winner of seven stages on the Vuelta, has been suffering from flu since the race began last Saturday and finally gave up the ghost as his respiratory problems had got worse. Farrar, who has won three stages on the Vuelta in his career, had been involved in a mass crash on Friday’s stage and though he began Saturday’s leg he had to retire after 40km. Their retirements come just days after Britain’s Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish threw in the towel.
Sunday’s stage is an even more demanding one, the 175.9km ride from Villacastin to Sierra de Bejar, with a finish at altitude at the first category climb of La Covatilla.
Vuelta a Espaa Stage 8
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 4:49:01
2. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD @ .09
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank @ s.t.
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek @ .12
6. Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ .15
7. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale @ s.t
8. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo
10. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Team Astana
General Classification After Stage 8
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha 32:18:16
2. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha @ .32
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek @ .34
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale @ .45
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD @ .51
6. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana @ .53
7. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto @ .55
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank @ .59
9. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep @ 1:00
10. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek 1:01