Belgian Jasper Stuyven took victory on the eighth stage of Spain’s Vuelta on a day dominated by high-profile crashes.
Ireland’s Dan Martin, who was lying third in the overall classification overnight, and American Tejay van Garderen were forced to withdraw from the race after suffering a heavy crash 50km from the finish.
Stuyven edged a sprint finish to the line from Spain’s Pello Bilbao and Frenchman Kevin Reza to claim the 182.5km stage from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia in a time of 4hr 06min 06sec.
Colombian Esteban Chaves finished in the leading group to maintain his overall lead by 10 seconds from Tom Dumoulin with Irishman Nicholas Roche a further 26 seconds behind in third.
Chris Froome, who is aiming to become just the third man to win the Tour de France and the Vuelta in the same year, moves into 11th overall, 1min 22sec behind Chaves.
One of the favourites for the stage, France’s Nacer Bouhanni, also had to withdraw due to injuries suffered in the crash involving Martin and Van Garderen.
Stage three winner Peter Sagan’s hopes of another victory were ruined by a crash with a support vehicle, but the Slovakian was at least able to finish the stage despite suffering significant cuts and bruises to his left leg.
Boeckmans in a coma, Van Garderen broken shoulder, Gerrans crashes again, Sagan hit by motorbike, Stuyven wins with fractured wrist. #Vuelta
— Matt Keenan (@mwkeenan) August 29, 2015
Stuyven and Chaves were also affected by the major crash as the peloton split just before the first of two climbs of the category three Alto de la Cresta del Gallo.
“I didn’t stay clear of the crashes. I was in the big one which Chaves was also in before the first big climb. I hit my wrist pretty bad, but I jumped on the bike again and climbed back,” said Stuyven.
“I suffered a lot on the first climb and then the second time I knew I had to start at the front so I could drift a little bit back if it was going to be hard. In the sprint I felt ‘I’ll go at 300 (metres from the finish)’ and it was for me today.”
Chaves was led back into the peloton by his Orica GreenEdge team to ensure his hopes of landing a first Grand Tour victory among a stellar field remained intact.
“Normally when you look on the race book it is an easy day, but it was really hard, really fast, dangerous and with a lot of crashes,” he said.
“The team stayed with me to put me back in the peloton. It was really fast with a small dangerous climb and descent, but I am happy to again be in the red jersey.”
With the summer winding down, the UAE’s biggest community cycling challenge returns with the annual Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge.
The big event is still three months away, but as usual, build-up rides will take place in the lead up to the challenge, with the first of the four held on Friday, September 4 around the Nad Al Sheba cycle course.
Entering its sixth year, the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge brings cycling enthusiasts from not only across the region, but from around the world to participate by the hundreds.
“We have created the perfect platform which caters for all levels and cycling experience,” said a spokesperson for the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge.
“With the Build-Up rides, cyclists have ample preparation time for the big event in December and we encourage all keen riders to participate and help promote cycling in Dubai.”
More than 2,500 riders are expected to enter the challenge this year and hundreds have alr-eady registered for the first of the four build-up rides around the Nad Al Sheba course.
The build-up rides increase in distance for each event – from 35km to 45km to 65km and finally 85km – preparing cyclists for the full 92km race on December 11.
Even if you’re a beginner on the bike, the build-up rides will get you in shape by the time winter rolls around. They will also help organisers determine starting positions for the challenge.
“Entries are growing year-on-year and we are expecting this to be the biggest Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge yet. With the support from the Dubai Sports Council and the UAE Cycling Federation for our event we are confident that we will continue to build on the already established success,” added the spokesperson.
Registration costs Dh50 for an individual build-up ride, but there is also a discount option for all four build-up rides and the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge for 10 per cent off until tomorrow, August 30.
To sign-up and for more information, visit www.cyclechallenge.ae. The first build-up ride will commence bright and early at 06:00.
Shake off the summer rust, hop back on your bike and get in the cycling groove in the first of four build-up rides leading to the Spinneys 92 Cycle Challenge.
What: Spinneys 92 Cycle Challenge first build-up ride
Where: Nad Al Sheba cycle course, Dubai
When: Friday, September 4 from 06:00 to 09:00
Contact: Visit www.cyclechallenge.ae to register and for more information.
Bert Jan Lindeman won Friday’s seventh stage of Spain’s Vuelta at La Alpujarra summit during a first stage in the mountains which proved gruelling for Chris Froome.
The Lotto-Jumbo rider withstood the searing Andalusian heat, powering ahead of Belarusian Ilia Koshevoy of Lampre and Italy’s Fabio Aru of Astana at the line. France’s Jerome Cousin of Europcar finished fourth after taking a tumble in the final straight while en route to victory.
Colombian Johan Esteban Chaves of Orica-GreenEdge holds the leader’s red jersey, gaining valuable time on Tour de France winner Froome, who crossed the line some 27 seconds behind the favourites.
— Team Sky (@TeamSky) August 28, 2015
Sky’s Froome is bidding for a Tour-Vuelta double but fell outside the top 10 in the overall standings and is now 12th at 1min 22sec after the first test at altitude.
The summit finish favoured the breakaway group with five riders including Lindeman building up a 13-minute lead on the peloton at one point with the Dutch rider proving the strongest and most cunning in the final race for the line.
“For me, it’s unexpected to win on our arrival in the mountains, with so many riders targeting the overall standings,” said Lindeman.
The 26-year-old cleverly let his rivals tire themselves out by repeatedly attacking before he broke through with the decisive acceleration.
“It’s never easy,” said Chaves. “It was a long day with sweltering heat. I’m very happy, each extra day in the red jersey is an important day. I feel good, my legs are very good. To be with the best is an honour.”
Froome’s title rivals – Fabio Aru (Astana), Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) – all profitted from his difficulties.
Aru was impressive gaining 34 seconds on Froome with a brutal acceleration in the final 1.5km.
“It’s the first summit finish and I was looking for some answers,” Aru said. “I wasn’t great on the shorter climbs but now I’m recovering and that’s good. Now we’ll just look to recover for the stages to come.”
Saturday’s eighth stage will leave Andalusia with the 182.5km run from Puebla de Don Fadrique to Murcia largely set to favour the sprinters despite a category three climb to cross twice in the final 40km.