It wasn’t quite the domination Jumbo-Visma hoped for, but on Saturday’s eighth stage of the Vuelta a España, Primož Roglič earned his 11th career stage victory in the Spanish Grand Tour and American Sepp Kuss yanked the red jersey from Lenny Martinez’s shoulders.
Over 165 up and down kilometers, a Cat. 3, three Cat. 2s and a Cat. 1 climb were spread evenly. The Cat. 1, Xorret de Catí, was short but steep, 3.8 km of 11.4 percent with a maximum of 22 percent, and it crested four kilometers from the finish line.
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) September 2, 2023
It was the kind of profile to elicit a large breakaway, but it took a couple of failed tries for one to stick. Finally, 30 riders went clear between the first and Cat. 3 Puerto de Tollos, where Jesus Herrada took the maximum KOM points. By Cat. 2 Puerto de Benifallim, the Belgian buccaneer Thomas De Gendt was solo. On that climb, the breakaway was shattered to pieces and the peloton was 4:00 in arrears.
— ammattipyöräily (@ammattipyoraily) September 2, 2023
On Benifallim’s descent, De Gendt found himself in Group 2 behind Rui Costa, Cristián Rodríguez and three others. The penultimate climb was Puerto de la Carrasqueta, 11 km of 4.6 percent. Costa’s gang grew up to 20 on Carrasqueta, and its members attacked each other up the grades. Jumbo-Visma pulled along the peloton behind.
Coming off Carrasqueta, eight escapees had broken free: Romain Bardet, Damiano Caruso, Costa and Rodríguez were all there. A further decanting created a leading quartet of Costa, Caruso, Stage 2 winner Andreas Kron and Oier Lazkano. With 32 km remaining, the peloton was 2:20 back.
Xorret de Catí
There were only 30 seconds separating the breakaway from the peloton when nasty old Xorret de Catí kicked up. Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-QuickStep provided the engines that dropped Geraint Thomas. Lenny Martinez couldn’t hang. When the last breakaways were caught, Kuss attacked. The chase was left to Evenepoel. Jonas Vingengaard, Roglič, Enric Mas, Juan Ayuso, Marc Soler and Joao Almeida were all there. Kuss was brought back with a kilometer to climb.