Vine soars again as leader Evenepoel again shows strength

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Australian Jay Vine won a mountainous stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana on Saturday, as Belgian Remco Evenepoel held on to the overall race lead.

Alpecin rider Vine crossed the line on the final Asturian summit of the stage alone, two days after climbing to his first professional win on Pico Jano.

“It’s incredible, the stage win was my main goal and when I took the last hairpin and looked back there was nobody there. I felt so confident after the first win, I just kept going,” said Vine, who also racked up enough mountain points to take the polka-dot jersey.

Evenepoel of Quick Step led the pace amongst the big guns on the last 10km climb at 8.5 per cent incline and was 1min 20sec adrift with Enric Mas of Movistar and Primoz Roglic of Jumbo the only riders able to hold on to the 22-year-old red-jersey-wearer’s pace.

Evenepoel leads Mas by 28sec in the general classification with Roglic third at 1min 01sec.

Two Ineos Grenadiers round out the top five: Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez at 1min 47sec and Briton Tao Geoghegan Hart at 1mn 54.

“I took time on a lot of guys except for the two most important ones,” said Evenepoel, who was already thinking of Sunday’s steep, but short, finale.

“Tomorrow, I will need super fresh-legs again.  If you explode, it’s completely done for sure on a climb like that. It’s a climb that suits me very well in duration, so I’m just gonna give my all.”

The race set off under low grey skies through the Nalon Valley and 10 riders escaped on the first climb in the Picos de Europa National Park.

Overnight king of the mountains, Monegasque rider Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH) pulled out with a broken collarbone along the way. Only 169 of the original 184 riders remain.

Vine racked up enough mountain points to take over the polka-dot jersey.

The green points jersey also changed torsos as Dane Mads Pedersen took enough sprint points in his stint in the escape to edge ahead of Irishman Sam Bennett of Bora.

“It was a good way to get 20 points, I don’t think I spent much more energy being in the break than sitting in the tail at the end of the peloton,” said the former road race world champion.

Sunday’s stage takes in a coastal run before five climbs with a finale which is perhaps more fearsome that Saturday’s stage culminating in a short but steep 4km effort but at 12 percent.

Monday is a rest day but is followed by a long individual time-trial where Evenepoel, on paper at least, should punish his rivals again before the Vuelta swoops into the south.

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