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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, August 22, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people. - Isaac Newton

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Vuelta a España stage eight reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Fabio Jakobsen's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

For the ninth time in the last ten years, Deceuninck – Quick-Step made it 50 victories in a season, taking its all-time tally to over 830 wins, after Fabio Jakobsen produced another flawless sprint in a fast and hectic finale at La Vuelta, which Saturday afternoon took the peloton through the region of Murcia.

Fabio Jakobsen

Fabio Jakobsen wins Vuelta stage eight. Sirotti photo

Completely flat, the stage wasn’t as straightforward as many had wished, due to the presence of the crosswinds which made a brief presence inside the final 40 kilometers, enough to kick-start a fierce fight for positioning at the front of the group which then easily swallowed the breakaway before hitting the coastline. The tension continued to be palpable, but no significant splits occurred, and the peloton entered as one in La Maga del Mar Menor.

Josef Cerny and Bert Van Lerberghe drilled the pace before making way for Florian Sénéchal, who did a monster lead-out until with 150 meters to go. As soon as the Frenchman stopped, Fabio Jakobsen opened his sprint and showed everyone a clean pair of cleats, comfortably sailing to his second win at this edition, one which moved him back to the top of the points classification.

“To double up here means a lot to me. Two years ago, I took two stages at my Vuelta debut, so to repeat that feat now is just amazing! We had some hectic final 40 kilometers, with the GC teams really nervous as they jostled for position, but I had a fantastic team around me all the time and they did a great job to keep me at the front.”

“In the closing kilometer I lost my teammates a bit, but I remained calm and confident in my legs and the speed I could generate. Florian did a great job, and just as we came out of the last corner I burst clear and finished it off. I’m excited and grateful to be here, a double stage winner after the opening week. I am also delighted to have green again, it’s the jersey every sprinter dreams about, and at the same time, a nice reward after suffering in the heat and on the climbs during Friday’s stage”, added the first Dutch rider to amass four La Vuelta stage wins before turning 25.

Here's the report from Alejandro Valverde's Team Movistar:

Stage eight of the 2021 La Vuelta went with absolutely no incidents for the Movistar Team, away from the contest for a bunch sprint, at La Manga del Mar Menor, where Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen (DQT) took his second win of the week. Primoz Roglic (TJV) kept the red jersey as GC leader, while Enric Mas and Miguel Ángel López, very well protected by his team-mates in the most wind-exposed sections, remained in 3rd and 4th overall.

The day’s biggest news from the Telefónica-backed squad came earlier as Alejandro Valverde’s collarbone surgery went with no complications. Following his crash on Friday, Alejandro was operated by Dr. Francisco Esparza and Dr. Javier Hernández at Murcia’s Hospital HLA La Vega, and will now start what is hoped to be a short, safisfactory road to recovery for the ‘campionissimo’ from the Movistar Team.

Alejandro Valverde

Alejandro Valverde earlier this year at the GP Miguel Indurain.

Fully focused on the important sporting challenges ahead, the Telefónica-backed will tackle on Sunday another big mountain trek. It will be the hardest stage so far in the race, with 4,600m elevation gain in 188km from Puerto Lumbreras to the Alto de Velefique (HC), climbing Cuatro Vientos (Cat-2), Venta Luisa (Cat-1) and Castro de Filabres (Cat-3) before the last ascent.

Here's the report from GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team:

Team Jumbo-Visma has come through the eighth stage of the Vuelta a España without any problems. The leading position of Primoz Roglic was never in danger. Tomorrow the peloton heads into the mountains again.

Shortly after the start of the mostly flat stage, a group of three rode away. Their lead remained within four minutes throughout the day, and with 30 kilometres to go the escapees were caught. The peloton then set course for the finish line in La Manga Del Mar Menor. Nothing stood in the way of a bunch sprint. Roglic stayed out of the scramble and finished in the same time as the day’s winner Fabio Jakobsen.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic finishing stage eight. Sirotti photo

“These stages are often mentally harder than physically”, Roglic said. “You have to be focused the whole day. Of course your legs have to keep going. Fortunately, we were able to get through well. Now there is one more stage left until the rest day. Tomorrow’s stage is one with a lot of altitude metres. It will be the first time I will contest the final climb. It will also be one of the toughest stages of this Tour of Spain so far. I hope I feel good. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Here's the report from Egan Bernal's INEOS Grenadiers team:

The INEOS Grenadiers worked well together to safely navigate a fast-paced finale on stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana.

The General Classification and sprinters' teams battled for position as the peloton raced into La Manga del Mar Menor, but the Grenadiers ensured leaders Egan Bernal, Adam Yates and Richard Carapaz were well-placed and maintained their GC positions.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal remains the Best Young Rider. Sirotti photo

Tom Pidcock, Pavel Sivakov, Jhonatan Narvaez, Salvatore Puccio and finally Dylan van Baarle brought the team to the front of the bunch to avoid incident on a technical run-in before a bunch sprint was won by Fabio Jacobsen (Deceunick-Quick-Step) in the searing heat of La Manga.

Attention now turns to Sunday's Alto de Velefique summit finish, which is a final GC test before the rest day.

Egan Bernal:
“It is quite humid above all. You sweat quite a lot and you need cool off. It’s still better to be in front when there is so much stress and stand to the side to avoid crashes. The team did very well and that’s one day less. When there's so much tension in the bunch, it's important to stay out of trouble. One less day to go. For tomorrow in Velefique, it depends on how the legs are, we will see how we go tomorrow."

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

Today the sprinters had one of the last opportunities at the Vuelta a España to take home a win, with a bunch sprint in the seaside resort of La Manga seeming inevitable, unless the wind along the coastal passages played a role on the 173.7km long route. After the peloton left Santa Pola, on the Costa Blanca, a trio broke free and as the three escapees were not a threat to the GC, it was the teams of the sprinters which were called up to lead the chase.

As expected, the three riders were ultimately caught again, about 35km before the finish. Shortly thereafter, the wind caused some splits in the peloton, yet after a few kilometres the race came back together. The finishing straight saw a duel between the fast men in La Manga del Mar Menor, which went to F. Jakobsen. Jordi Meeus sprinted to fourth place, and thereby took his best result so far in this year's Vuelta.

Fabio Jakobsen

Jordi Meeus is just behind Green Jersey Jasper Philipsen.

From the finish line:
"During the day, the race was relatively well controlled by teams like Quick-Step and Alpecin-Fenix. Then it got a bit more hectic about 25 - 30km from the finish because of the possibility of echelons. But the team did a great job and kept me in front so I was a bit fresher for the finale. In the sprint itself, I lost the wheel of my lead-out rider Martin Laas over the last few hundred metres and I ended up fourth. But one can see that I'm getting better day by day here, so I'm looking forward to the next opportunities." - Jordi Meeus

"The race was a bit easier than expected, with there having been the possibility of more wind. However, on the other hand, the weather was also incredibly hot. It was nervous in parts, but we were ready for the potential crosswinds. Our goal today, besides staying safe in the wind, was of course to pull out a good sprint with Jordi. On the finishing straight, he was a bit boxed in where he would have come out and launched a sprint, and so fourth was what was possible today. It's okay, of course it would have been nicer to sprint for the podium. But Jordi's results are gradually improving, which is also very encouraging." - Steffen Radochla, Sports Director

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