Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) claimed his second Vuelta a España 2022 stage victory on Saturday, soloing away from the breakaway on the difficult finishing climb of Colláu Fancuaya to take stage 8 in the Asturias.
The 26-year-old Australian again covered the last kilometers in the fog, this time taking his victory with a gap of 43 seconds over second Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) and third Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Material de Gobert).
In the GC group behind, race leader Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl) was an imperious figure on the final ascent, pushing the pace in a group of five on the final. Enric Mas (Movistar) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) finished in the same time as Evenepoel while Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers) were 13 seconds behind the red jersey.
A good number of other key rivals lost significantly more time during the day. Among those whose overall hopes took a serious hit in Stage 8 were Richard Carapaz and Pavel Sivakov of the Ineos Grenadiers.
After Saturday’s friendly climbers showdown, Evenepoel continues to lead the race, with Mas moving into second at 28 seconds and Roglič third at 1:01 behind former red jersey Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), who started the day second. , finished several minutes later.
For Vine, who started this Vuelta without a WorldTour victory on his career record, the victory was his second in three days. He also took the lead in the mountain rankings.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I just had so much more confidence after that first one, it’s like I had this monkey on my back. It felt so much more natural to ride in the group today. All the pressure was on me. I had two goals and if one didn’t pay I still had the KOM shirt to fall back on. Much more confidence in myself and I really enjoyed today. It was such a fun day.
Climbers will have another chance to shine, even as the sun continues to be obscured by cloudy skies in northern Spain on Sunday’s Stage 9.
HOW DID IT HAPPEN
It took a while for the breakaway to form at the start of the 153.4km La Pola Llaviana stage, with multiple attempts brought in before the decisive move broke free. The breakout group that eventually formed up front included some notable names including Vine, Soler, Taaramäe, Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). They will eventually be joined by Thibaut Pinot, who is making the bridge with the help of his Groupama-FDJ teammate Sebastian Reichenbach. With Bruno Armirail also in the lead, the French team had three riders in the breakaway.
After setting a high tempo for almost an hour, the peloton finally let the gap widen to around four minutes, where it leveled off as QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl picked up the pace.
The gap stayed there or thereabouts for much of the stage, with Groupama-FDJ pushing the breakaway while QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl led the pack. As the race went up and up after another, Vine racked up KOM points, as riders began to drop from both groups.
Pedersen’s leading day was rewarded in the intermediate sprint with around 25 km to go, where he took the maximum points and thus secured the recovery of the green points jersey from Sam Bennett. A few minutes later, he returned from the break.
The pace in both groups was high as the road angled upwards in a categoryless appetizer for the finishing steep climb. At the official start of the first category final with just over 10 km to go, seven surviving breakaways still had a gap of three and a half minutes on the peloton.
Lutsenko launched a push ahead with about six kilometers to go, but Vine latched onto him and then continued solo. Behind, Pinot and Rein Taaramäe, joined shortly after by Soler, put themselves in pursuit mode.
Back in the peloton, QuickStep set a scorching pace on the steep hills, and the tempo proved too high for one rider after another, including Carapaz. With teammate Ineos falling, Tao Geoghegan Hart made a big dig, luring Evenepoel and a handful of others. Shortly after, however, Geoghegan Hart passed out along with teammate Pavel Sivakov, leaving Carlos Rodríguez to fly the Ineos flag in the much-reduced GC group with Evenepoel, Roglič and Mas. Yates reassembled to make it a quintet.
Up front, there would be no catching Vine, who took a convincing win. Behind, Evenepoel, Mas and Roglič distanced Yates and Rodríguez in the last hundred meters.
In the end, Vine had the stage and mountain jersey, Evenepoel continued to wear red and Pedersen took over the green jersey.
“At the start, literally on the first climb, I was like, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to be able to stay out of it,'” Vine said of the stage.
“They seemed to be chasing us pretty hard so I decided to definitely target the first two KOMs. But then down in the valley we had a really good group. The FDJ guys had three on the move and QuickStep was just controlling at From there point on I went, ‘OK, if I can get the KOM points without too much of a struggle, I’ll go for them’, but the stage was still the main focus.”
Obviously, things went according to plan for Vine, now a two-time Grand Tour stage winner.
VUELTA A ESPAÑA 2022: STAGE EIGHT RESULTS
1. Jay Vine (Aus) Alpecin-Fenix, in 405-25
2. Marc Soler (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, at 43
3. Rein Taaramäe (East) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Materials
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ), at 47
5. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, in 29-28-19, at 1-20
6. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar
7. Primož Roglič (Svn) Jumbo-Visma
8. Simon Yates (GBr) BikeExchange-Jayco, at 1-33
9. Carlos Rodríguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers
10. Sébastien Reichenbach (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 1-42
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER THE EIGHTH STAGE
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, in 29-28-19
2. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 28
3. Primož Roglič (Svn) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-01
4. Carlos Rodríguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-47
5. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-54
6. Juan Ayuso (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-02
7. Simon Yates (GBr) BikeExchange-Jayco, at 2-05
8. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-44
9. Jai Hindley (Australia) Bora-Hansgrohe, 2-51
10. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën 2-59