Stage eight delivered an exciting day of racing with UAE Team Emirates’ Jan Polanc launching an attack, supported by his teammate Przemyslaw Niemiec, to lead the breakaway of the day for 35 km of the stage alongside 19 other riders.
The breakaway group managed to stay away from the peloton and on the final climb Polanc succeeded in limiting the gap between him and the counter-attackers Alaphilippe and Majka, joining them in the short descent to the arrival.
In the restricted sprint, the Slovenian rider from UAE Team Emirates obtained second and as a result moved up in the GC standings by 14 places to 13th.
The stage victory went to Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) while Chris Froome (Team Sky) retained the overall leader’s Red Jersey and UAE Team Emirates’ Niemic was awarded most aggressive rider.
Saturday’s efforts mark the fourth day in a row for UAE Team Emirates’ in or leading the main breakaway and the second consecutive day a Slovenian rider from the team has made it to the podium.
Commenting on his podium finish, Polanc said: “It was a very hard and warm stage. Today we had some headwind but there was a good group in front and we all worked together to maintain our positon. The last climb was hard and steep so when we reached the bottom I had to do it at my own pace keeping a distance to the guys in front of me but chasing as best I could and coming in second. Towards the end it was impossible to beat Alaphilippe as he is a great sprinter but I am very pleased with second place.”
The 176.3 km route of stage nine is identical to the route of the seventh stage in the 2015 edition of the race. Sunday’s stage, the last before the first rest day, is another summit finish with a much flatter preface than today. Starting in Orihuela the peloton will travel on flat roads from Torrevieja to the finish line in Cumbre del Sol.
Stage eight results
1- Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) – 04:37:55
2- Jan Polanc – UAE Team Emirates – 00:00:02
3- Rafal Majka – Bora-Hansgrohe – “”
1- Chris Froome – Team Sky – 32:26:13
2- Johan Esteban Chaves – ORICA-Scott – 00:00:28
3- Nicolas Roche – BMC Racing Team – 00:00:41
13- Jan Polanc – UAE Team Emirates – 00:02:29
— Matej Mohoric (@matmohoric) August 26, 2017
For Matej Mohoric, who had one previous professional victory to his name, stage seven at the Vuelta a Espana was an opportunity he was determined to seize.
The UAE Team Emirates rider initially found himself part of the 14-man breakaway in today’s race, before separating on the climb and then creating insurmountable distance on the daredevil descent to earn the stage win.
It was a course that played to the 22-year-old Slovenian’s strengths and Mohoric wasn’t about to let the chance to shine in a Grand Tour event pass him by.
“I was only thinking about the victory and nothing else was acceptable for me today,” Mohoric, whose only other pro win came in last year’s Tour of Hainan, told Sport360°. “Anything else would have been a disappointment.”
— Matej Mohoric (@matmohoric) August 25, 2017
After getting into the breakaway – what he called the most challenging part of the stage – and keeping pace on the climb, Mohoric took over in the descent.
“I tried to anticipate the climb itself because I knew some guys in the breakaway might climb better than I do, so I was afraid of that,” Mohoric said. “I had to get to the top as quick as possible and then attack after the climb in the full flat before the descent.”
For UAE Team Emirates, Mohoric’s victory marked their second in a Grand Tour, following Jan Polanc’s triumph in stage four of this year’s Giro d’Italia back in May.
With 14 stages to go in Spain, Mohoric is optimistic of his team’s chances to strike again and further display the quality of the roster.
“I think we have more good riders here that can also win the stage,” he said. “The Vuelta is still long and we have plenty more stages yet to come that are well-suited to the characteristics of our team.”
UAE Team Emirates’ Matej Mohoric battled his way to a solo victory on stage seven of La Vuelta as Chris Froome retained his slender overall lead in the red jersey for Team Sky.
The 22-year-old Slovenian rider saw off the challenge of a 14-man breakaway heading into the finish at Cuenca to cross 16 seconds ahead of Poland’s Pawel Poljanski as the Bora-Hansgrohe racer ended runner-up for the second consecutive day.
The 207-kilometre stage, which started from Lliria, featured a treble of category three climbs, with the breakaway taking shape from around 10kms as the riders battled against crosswinds.
However, it was Mohoric who ultimately lasted the distance for the climb and descent of Alto del Castillo before then pulling clear as he closed in on Cuenca.
It was a spectacular performance from Mohoric, who said: “It’s incredible! It’s been a long time since my last big win. I’ve always worked hard and tried my best, but it is great to have a victory again.”
“I’m in pretty good shape so today the team wanted me to go into the breakaway, I tried to save as much energy as possible and then just waited until the final which was well suited to my skills.”
Saturday’s eighth stage will run from Hellin to Xorret de Cat, which includes a category one climb towards the finish of the 199.5km route.
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamUAEAbuDhabi) August 25, 2017