Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 8 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 8 Preview

By David Hunter

Stage 7 Recap

After a very fast start, we eventually got a break of 15 riders: Millar, Lang, Kolobnev, Mondory, LL Sanchez, Clarke, Le Bon, Coppel, Jerome, Izagirre, Hansen, Arndt, Jungels and Quinziato. The peloton weren’t happy with this and they were brought back, before the first climb of the day. A new group of 9 formed, with Landa in it, but a crash by Froome, saw the pace increase and this group failed too. At last a 4 man break managed to get a gap, we had De Marchi, Hesjedal, Tschopp and Dupont. Steve Morabito tried to bridge, but couldn’t and Froome made it back to the bunch. The 4 were to get a very large advantage, before Trek and Lampre eventually tried to chase. They left it too late and the 4 were to fight out the win. Tschopp took the mountain points and he now looks certain to try and chase the KOM jersey. As we approached the final unclassified climb, Dupont was distanced and then Hesjedal crashed on a corner. To make matters worse, the motorbike, rolled over his bike. De Marchi and Tschopp had to continue and it took no time for the Italian to distance his rival. De Marchi continued on to take a fantastic victory, his first grand tour stage. Hesjedal, battled back for second and Dupont was third. When the peloton arrived, Gilbert brought them home, ahead of Dan Martin. Chris Froome, managed to steal another 2 seconds on the others.

Stage 8 Baeza – Albacete 207km

Transition day.


Most of the peloton will be looking forward to a nice, easy ride across Spain. The stage is the longest of the whole race, but those wanting an easy day had better watch out!

We have some crosswinds. Nearly all day, the wind is coming from the East and across the riders. Tinkoff-Saxo, have already shown an interest in splitting the field and it could happen again here. You can never relax in the Vuelta, as danger is just around the corner.

ve8aWe don’t have a single categorised climb, and the final 70km is downhill. A welcome rest, from the tough hills we’ve been through. The temperature is down to a very pleasant, 30 degrees.

ve8bThe profile of the final 5km, shows nothing of concern, but the finish isn’t easy.

ve8cWe have 4 roundabouts inside the final 2.8km of the stage. Not only that, but we head into a residential area of the city. The roads here are 2 lanes wide, but split by a central reservation. It remains to be seen if the organisers will make the race go on one side. If this is the case, the road is narrow and it’s essential to be at the front from 5km to go. If not, we’ll have the peloton, split in two, by the reservation. This will make the racing frantic and very fast!

The final roundabout comes, just after the flamme rouge. This will be taken at speed and it leads onto a 2 lane road. As we go closer to the finish, the road becomes much wider, but positioning is going to be crucial.

Many sprinters will be licking their lips at the finish: Bouhanni, Degenkolb, Ferrari, Richeze, Hutarovich, Guardini, Hofland, Lasca, Gatto, Reynes, Pelucchi, Debusschere, Boonen, Matthews and Stuyven.

Both Ferrari and Degenkolb crashed today and I’ve been told that Richeze will sprint for Lampre. Pelucchi is still recovering from having a fever. The rest should be there, but if Degenkolb isn’t feeling too good, then watch out for Nikias Arndt. He won a stage in the Dauphine, this year, and it would be good to see him have a go.

Bouhanni and Degenkolb are certainly the fastest sprinters here, with the rest all fighting for the minor places.

Prediction time…

The wind will cause havoc. I see the peloton split into pieces, and a reduced bunch sprint. It’s impossible to tell who’ll be there, but OPQS never miss out, so Boonen could have a chance. Richeze, is also a clever rider and I would expect to see him stay out of trouble. As for the rest, it’s a lottery!

Here’s hoping OPQS get in on the party and Boonen wins.

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David Hunter

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