Jasper Stuyven took the biggest win of his career, winning stage 8 of La Vuelta in a day marked by major crashes and abandons.
With the potential for a bunch sprint at the stage finish though the peloton weren’t going to let them get too far and their gap was kept managable throughout the day, never getting over the 5′ mark.
The worst crash happened with 48km to go, just after the intermediate sprint point as the race approached the first of the climbs.
The crash distanced many of the peloton with riders all over the road seeking medical attention and getting new bikes or talking to team cars. The breakaway was unaware of the crash as they continued on to the foot of the climb with an advantage that had been cut to less than 2′.
Howes attempted to go clear on the climb and got a gap at the top which he tried to extend on the descent, but unfortunately crashed and was caught and passed by the break and then the peloton.
The remnants of the break were soon reeled in and a brief lull in proceedings allowed the peloton to catch it’s breath and was a chance for riders who were distanced due to the crash to catch up to the peloton – including race leader Chaves.
The respite didn’t last long as the race came to life again on the second climb as Dumoulin tried to attack at the foot of the climb, but he was passed by Etixx-QuickStep’s Brambilla who was able to link up with four riders halfway up the climb and try to forge clear to the finish.
As the race reached foot of the descent there was a leading group of 40 riders including most of the GC and who was left of the sprinters, who were few as most had been distanced by either the crash or the climbs.
José Gonçalves (Caja Rural), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) and Alberto Losada (Katusha) attacked the group and managed to get an advantage of 40″ as they tried to ride away to the finish, but the few sprinters that remained were not going to have their day taken after the chaos that had already occurred and the move was quickly shut down by Trek and Tinkoff-Saxo.
Peter Sagan then tried to make a late move which looked to be successful until a collision with a neutral service bike saw him crash and lose his chance to take the stage win. Even Adam Hansen tried to attack within the final 1.5km but the determination of Trek was too much as Stuyven out-manoeuvred everyone to take the stage win.
After the stage Stuyven also had to retire after an x-ray showed he had broken his wrist in the crash.