Double delight for Rodriguez
Another encouraging display from Team Sky's Wiggins
By Jonathan Turner. Last Updated: 04/09/11 12:25pm
Rodriguez: Another superb display by the Spaniard on a testing uphill finish
Joaquim Rodríguez made light of a brutal final climb to win stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana and move into the overall lead.
The Spaniard looked the man to beat before the 177.3 kilometres stage from Talavera de le Reina to San Lorenzo de El Escorial which featured four categorised climbs as well as a short, super-steep ascent to the finish line which included gradients of up to 28%.
And it was inside that final kilometre that Rodríguez, brilliantly set up by his hard-working Katusha team, made his move. He surged past Michele Scarponi (Lampre) and never looked like being caught, eventually crossing the line nine seconds ahead of Scarponi and Bauke Mollema (Rabobank).
Rodriguez, who also won on a similar finish into Valdepeñas de Jaén on stage five, now tops the general classification by 32 seconds from his team-mate Daniel Moreno, with Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard Trek) a further two seconds back in third.
Sylvain Chavanel was forced to relinquish the leader's red jersey as he crossed the line 1:03 adrift in 37th while defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) surprisingly slipped down the standings after losing 32 seconds to Rodriguez.
There was plenty of encouragement for Team Sky pair Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome who both finished strongly on a final climb which didn't play to their strengths, limiting their losses to Rodriguez to 20 seconds.
That saw them each move up two spots in the GC, with Froome in 19th and Wiggins a place behind, both 1:43 back.
The stage came to life in the final 15km, with the day's big break hoovered up before a succession of riders tried their luck off the front.
They included Ángel Madrazo (Movistar) and Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis) but they were reeled in on the flat section approaching San Lorenzo de El Escorial, with Katusha having controlled things perfectly on the front all day to tee up Rodriguez for his final burst.