The 2014 Vuelta a Espana’s Stage 8 opened with moderate temperatures at 85 degrees rather than those scotching 100’s seen in the past few days. However, the winds began to batter several teams. The trek originated from the ancient Roman town of Baeza and headed north and upward along a mostly flat surface with a few minor hills. This course is the longest of the race at a distance of 128.6 miles (207 km).
The finish line sat in Albacete, which welcomed all 195 cyclists pedaling through. The town is no stranger to hosting Vuelta a Espana’s best. It served as the finish in 2003’s Stage 12 and as the opening of Stage 14.
This stage saw some familiar names from the Tour de France fighting for a crossing over the finish line. Michael Matthews, Peter Sagan, and Stage’s 4 and 5 Vuelta winner, John Degenkolb was faltering back and forth. However, it was Nacer Bouhanni of France (FDJ.fr) who managed to hold off these three (came in 2nd, 3rd and 4th) and the rest of the pack of 191.
Nacer Bouhanni crossed the finish line first and took a second stage win at the Vuelta with a time of 4 hours 29 minutes. Bouhanni’s rapidly mounting status as a top international sprinter already was defined this year by bagging three Giro stage wins and the point’s jersey.
The overall classification leader Alejandro Valverde Belmonte of Spain (Movistar Team) came in 22th place but conversely retains the red jersey. He still holds a 15-second lead over teammate Nairo Quintana Rojas in 2nd place.
Sunday’s Stage 9 will have the cyclists enduring 115 miles (185 km) from Carboneras de Guadazaón to Aramón Valdelinares. There will be a 3rd category climb as well as a 2nd category climb prior to a steep climb to Valdelinares.
Stage 8 Results Saturday, August 30th
1. Nacer Bouhanni of France (FDJ.fr)
2. Michael Matthews of Australia (Orica GreenEdge)
3. Peter Sagan of Slovakia (Cannondale)
4. John Degenkolb of Germany (Team Giant-Shimano)
5. Gregory Henderson of New Zealand (Lotto Belisol)
Overall Classification Results
1. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte of Spain (Movistar Team) 31:21:20
2. Nairo Quintana Rojas of Colombia (Movistar)
3. Alberto Contador Velasco of Spain (Tinkoff-Saxo)
4. Chris Froome of Great Britain (Team Sky)
5. Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio of Colombia (Orica Greenedge)