AFP/Alto de Moncalvillo, Spain
Primoz Roglic powered clear of Richard Carapaz to win the eighth stage of the Vuelta a Espana yesterday and close the gap on Carapaz in the overall classification.
Slovenia’s Roglic absorbed a late attack from Carapaz and then pulled away to cross the line 13 seconds ahead of his Ecuadorian rival, with Ireland’s Dan Martin coming in third.
The race’s top four are separated by less than a minute, although Roglic’s gutsy victory means he cuts the cap behind Carapaz from 30 seconds to 13.
Martin is third, 28 seconds off the lead while Hugh Carthy is fourth, 44 seconds back and Movistar’s Enric Mas completes the front five almost two minutes behind.
Roglic prevailed after a monumental effort on the Vuelta’s first ever finish on the category one climb of Alto de Moncalvillo, coming at the end of a twisting 164km ride beginning in Logrono.
“It was quite a boring, slow start but the pace went up and it was super fast and harder after the second to last climb,” said Roglic. “On the last climb, it was actually the first time I’d done it in my life. I didn’t know it, only all I could see from the profile was that it was a hard climb.
But then it’s a good opportunity, you have to go if you want to win. It was more going with my feeling.”
Roglic looked up to the sky and thrust both his arms in the air as he sailed over the line. “I always like to win, so if there is a small opportunity I will take it,” he added.
“It was super hard today and luckily I had the legs and I’m happy to win the stage. It’s nice to get some time back but most of all it’s nice to win the race.”
Jumbo-Visma’s Tom Dumoulin was not at the start after choosing to quit the race due to fatigue. The 2017 Giro d’Italia champion had been heavily involved in Roglic’s second-place finish in the Tour de France. “This is the right decision,” Dumoulin said.
Movistar’s Mas and Marc Soler led the pack over the top of the Puerto de la Rasa, a category two climb and the first of the day’s two ascents, with the advantage of the early seven-man break down to almost a minute. With 10km left, the break was caught and it was Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde who was first to attack on the Alto de Moncalvillo before Roglic and Carapaz made their move. Aleksandr Vlasov appeared to have the stage in his grasp when he tore 15 seconds clear with just over 1km left, only for Roglic and Carapaz to come again. Carapaz dug deep to briefly take charge but somehow Roglic found extra reserves to counter, with Carapaz this time unable to respond. The Vuelta continues on Thursday with the ninth stage, stretching 157.7km, starting in Castrillo del Val and finishing in Aguilar de Campoo.
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