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Roche and Martin go close at San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Posted 27 August 2011

Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin were in the shake up to win stage 8 of the Vuelta á Espana but had to settle for top ten placings after Joaquin Rodriguez crushed his rivals to claim a second stage win on the slopes of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

The Irish duo were in the thick of the action right up to the final 400 metres where the Spaniard picked his moment to kick clear on gradients of 22% to claim the stage win and overall lead.

Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) took seventh place having crossed the line within 16 seconds of the Katusha rider while Martin (Garmin Cervelo) placed ninth with the same finishing time.

The pair gained as many seconds on defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) but have drifted to over two minutes deficit after Rodriguez picked up a 20 seconds times bonus for the stage win.

Rodriguez’s victory was as emphatic as the one he produced during Wednesday’s fifth stage finish to Valdepenas De Jaen but it is clear that Roche and Martin are improving as the race continues.

Both riders were well positioned on the wheel of the Spaniard as the race turned into the final kilometre ascent with Roche the stronger of the two as Jurgen Van den Broeck (Omega Pharma Lotto) turned up the heat.

A push by Michele Scarponi (Lampre ISD) caused Martin to slip a few places but it was Rodriguez’s reply that shook Roche loose as the Spaniard produced yet another powerhouse display of strength and acceleration.

He etched out a nine second advantage over Scarponi by the finish with Bauke Molema (Rabobank) third at 10 seconds.

The race came down to the final climb after the peloton pulled back Heinrich Haussler (Garmin Cervelo), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale) and Adrian Palomares (Andalucia-Caja-Granada)  11 kilometres from the finish.

The trio  had come together along with Julien Fourchard (Cofidis) on the first second category climb of the Puerto de Mijares, establishing a lead of more than eight minutes over the summit after 57 kilometres of racing.

Their lead fell to 4’43” by the time they reached the summit of the Alto de San Bartolone de Pinares after 120 kilometres while Fourchard lost contact on the penulimate climb of the Alto de Santa Maria with 32 kilometres to go.

The Katusha team let nothing go once the catch was made as they worked to protect the interests of Rodriguez and Daniel Moreno and skirmishes from Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and Angel Madrazo (Moviestar) were quicly snuffed out to set up the showdown on the finishing climb.

Rodriguez  now leads the race with a 32 seconds advantage over teammate Moreno who maintained his second place overall while Jakob Fuglsang’s (Leopard Trek) fifth place on the stage saw him climb to third overall just two second further back.

Martin has moved up slighlty in the GC to 22nd at 2’02” with Roche following suit with a move to 23rd where he lies 2’05” down.

The pair will have another opportunity to make an impression on the stage and to climb the overall GC on stage 9 which is relatively flat for much of the 183 kilometres before the summit finish on the hors category Sierra Bejar-La-Covatilla.

Results:

2011 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 8: Talavera de la Reina – San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 177.3 kilometres

1.  Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 4:49:01     
2.  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:09     
3.  Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:10     
4.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto          
5.  Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:00:12     
6.  Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:15     
7.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:16     
8.  Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC          
9.  Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo          
10. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana

General classification after stage 8:

1.  Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 32:18:16     
2.  Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:32     
3.  Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:00:34     
4.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:45     
5.  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:00:51     
6.  Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana 0:00:54     
7.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:56     
8.  Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:01:00     
9.  Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team          
10. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek 0:01:01

22. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin Cervelo at 2 minutes, 02 seconds
23. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 2 minutes, 05 seconds

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