Stage 8 starts with a ‘flat’ first 80 kilometers. This means 2 things, a lot of riders can get into the breakaway also the non-climbers. But its also easier to control for the GC teams if they got any plans.
The stage is a typical Vuelta length I would say with 164 kilometers. The finishing climb is the real deal, 11 kilometers 8% avg, big parts of the climb are above 10%. We will see gaps between the GC guys for sure.
But how about the stage win, is it for the best climbers or the breakaway? The deciding factor will probably be the first climb, if it would have been possible to distance GC contenders there it could have been a very fast final where I d’ give the GC riders a good chance for the stage win. But in this situation the first climb looks a bit too easy for that, 10 kilometers 5% average. That is not steep enough to make a difference. Thats why I am thinking this will be a breakaway win.
Who would be the contenders from a breakaway? We start soon with dropping some names but first lets set the criteria. Really hard and long finishing climb so the winner will be an extremely good climber. The winner also needs to get into the breakaway while its probably formed on flat roads. So they either need a team to get them in there or push their 60kg bodies to the limit at the first part of the stage.
Riders with experience in winning stages at the Vuelta who might have a chance in stage 8 are Kenny Ellisonde and Mikel Nieve. Both pure climbers who were in the stage 7 breakaway as well. Another good climber who showed his good legs in the previous days is Robert Power from team Sunweb. He will be very motivated because he is fighting for a new contract here! There are also plenty of mountain points to be taken on top of the last climb so I definetly expect Guillaume Martin in the mix again, but does he still have the legs after all his aggresive riding? Astana has been seen in countless breakaways as well. There best shot for stage 8 might be Alexandr Vlasov who had a good showing on stage 3. With what he has previously shown this season he is one of the top favorites for me but within Astana also keep an eye on the Izagirre brothers.
Other candidates are Sepp Kuss if he gets the freedom again. Jan Hirt had been invisible so far but maybe he saved himself to go all out on stage 8? Finally UAE – Emirates have to be named with their 4 strong climbers, I expect most from Davide Formolo looking at his results this Vuelta and the parcours.
*** Alexandr Vlasov
** Mikel Nieve, Kenny Ellisonde
* Sepp Kuss, Davide Formolo, Guillaume Martin
And the GC contenders, what are they gonna do? I expect them to leave it all to the last climb. Looking at the riders in top of GC right now I think Grossschartner will fade a bit. This climb is too long for him and he will loose time.
Basically everyone in the top 5 has to gain time on Roglic to make up for the TT so we will most likely see plenty of attacks especially by Movistar who have the team to set a hugh pace from the bottom of the last climb. Roglic however will be able to counter everything or if not crack really late and we will see Mas, Carapaz, Dan Martin, Carthy and Roglic crossing the line within 30 seconds of each other. These 5 are a notch above the others on the climb and gaps in the top 10 will start to open up a lot especially thanks to an amazing turn from Soler who got outpuncht in the final k.
What are your thoughts for stage 8?