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Vuelta Stage 8: Momentum Back With ONCE As Rodriguez Wins

ONCE rider Joaquin Rodriguez has come out on top in today’s mountainous 8th stage of the Vuelta, as his team-leader Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano clawed back time on USPS’s Triki Beltran.

Rodriguez was the strongest survivor of a 9-man break which escaped around 35kms into a stage which made major use of roads and climbs familiar to fans of the Tour de France. Among those along with him for company were Unai Etxebarria, already a stage winner this week, and the always active Joan Horrach, Aitor Osa and Constantino Zaballa from Kelme.

This group lead the way over all of today’s major climbs, the Col d’ Aspin, Col de Peyresourde, Col del Portillon and the finishing haul up the Pla de Beret. They had around 10 minutes on the peloton as they started the Peyresourde, but another stellar tactical display from ONCE saw them in control of the peloton, holding all the cards. With a strong man in the break, and Beltran in trouble on the Portillon as the chase exploded, it was a good day for Nozal and Gonzalez de Galdeano who cemented the top 2 positions on GC.

The real action behind the breakaways came from Richard Virenque who launched himself off in pursuit just before the final climb in a vain bid to get some glory. After he’d been picked up, yesterday’s star man Michael Rasmussen attacked the lead group with Unai Osa, Luis Perez and Felix Cardenas.

Simultaneously, Aitor Osa and Rodriguez jumped around 7 kms from home, and powered clear of their erstwhile companions, flying up to the finish. With plenty of time in hand to fight out the stage, Osa made his move first going past 1 km to go, but was checked by Rodriguez. The ONCE man then made his extra strength count leading out the final sprint, and getting into the last corner first. He easily held on to take the win.

Behind, the breakaway started to splinter, but they hung in to finish clear of the field. Rasmussen and co. came in a little ahead of the main leaders. Nozal, Gonzalez de Galdeano, Heras, Mancebo and Frigo all finished together.

After 2 tough days in the mountains, part 3 of this Pyrennean trilogy tomorrow will be fascinating, and we’ll really start to see who can handle their recoveries best.

Vuelta Stage 8 results: Cauterets – Pla de Beret/Val d’ Aran 166kms

1 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 4.45.40 (34.9 km/h)
2 Aitor Osa (Spa) iBanesto.com same
3 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca + 0.51
4 Josй Jufre (Spa) Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada same
5 Joan Horrach (Spa) Milaneza-MSS + 0.54
6 Unai Etxebarria (Ven) Euskaltel-Euskadi + 1.13
7 Denis Lunghi (Ita) Alessio + 1.32
8 Eladio Jimenez (Spa) iBanesto.com + 2.15
9 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank + 3.31
10 Luis Perez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crйdit par Tйlйphone same

Main leaders @ 3.51

Overall GC after 8th Stage

1 Isidro Nozal (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 24.58.08
2 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski + 1.21
3 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor + 1.34
4 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo + 3.07
5 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor + 3.18
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com + 3.40
7 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo + 4.00
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca + 4.03
9 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank + 4.04
10 Unai Osa (Spa) iBanesto.com + 4.14

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