Three-time Vuelta a España winner Primož Roglič pipped Remco Evenepoel to the punch in a seven-man sprint after Jumbo-Visma once again exerted their domination in the mountains.
In another thrilling mountain stage, Jumbo-Visma’s efforts to shake defending champion Remco Evenepoel proved futile until the very last gasp.
The expectations were high on the final climb – the Category 1 Xorret de Catí – as the four-man breakaway, which at one point had nearly four minutes on the peloton, was caught by the GC group with just 5.5 km to go.
Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss launched a promising attack on the steepest slopes of the Xorret de Catí climb, successfully dropping the red jersey Lenny Martinez, but was reeled in by Remco Evenepoel and the rest of the GC group within a kilometer.
However, Sepp Kuss’ attack was enough to win him the red jersey as Lenny Martinez finished over a minute behind the whittled-down GC group.
After reeling in Kuss’ attack, Evenepoel looked extremely strong as he led a group of eight riders – Kuss, Soler, Roglič, Vingegaard, Mas, Almeida, and Evenepoel – over the summit of the Xorret de Catí, as well as the entire descent.
The final 800 m were flat with a kick-up nearer the end of the course.
Evenepoel was constantly looking over his shoulder, waiting for an attack, until 150 m when he began to sprint. However, Roglič was quickly on his wheel and passed him around the final bend to take the stage.
Another Display Of Jumbo-Visma’s Strength
Even though the breakaway sustained a solid lead for a large portion of the day, the impossibly strong Jumbo-Visma team were the stars of the show as their high pace-setting at the front of the peloton was responsible for reeling in the breakaway.
Despite the Dutch team’s best efforts, they were unable to shake Remco Evenepoel for essentially the entire stage as he managed to keep up with the high pace and looked incredibly strong on the climb.
Even Sepp Kuss’ powerful attack wasn’t enough to drop the Belgian for more than a couple of minutes.
However, a strong ride today wasn’t enough for Evenepoel to significantly eat into the gap between him and the top of the General Classification, as he still sits 2 minutes and 31 seconds behind the leader Sepp Kuss.
Jumbo-Visma was a team going into this race with two co-leaders and the winners’ of both of the other two Grand Tours this year, Roglič and Vingegaard, but now a potential third has emerged in super-domestique Sepp Kuss.
The 28-year-old American has been a loyal Jumbo-Visma domestique since 2018 and has cemented his status as the world’s leading mountain domestique.
However, it’s becoming clear that he could be a candidate to go on and win the Vuelta this year, which would mean that Jumbo-Visma completes the treble of Grand Tours with three different riders, an incredible feat that displays the team’s depth.
But, it would potentially be an even more impressive feat in itself for Sepp Kuss to win the Vuelta, given this is his fifth consecutive Grand Tour – the last one he missed being the 2022 Giro d’Italia.
“The guys did a really amazing job”
Stage winner Roglič caught up with GCN after the stage, seeming elated and audibly celebrating after his first stage win of the year.
“Nice eh? Now I’m even more relaxed. It was already nice but most of all I’m happy that I recovered from the crash. Just enjoying now and we go day by day.” he said, clearly reveling in his joy of winning the stage.
When asked about just how many team leaders Jumbo-Visma has, he quipped: “At least three now, no? But maybe there’s still someone coming!”
Vuelta A España 2023: Stage 8 Results
1 ROGLIČ Primož (Jumbo-Visma) 4:13:52
2 EVENEPOEL Remco (Soudal – QuickStep) Same time
3 AYUSO Juan (UAE Team Emirates) Same time
4 MAS Enric (Movistar Team) +0:02
5 VINGEGAARD Jonas (Jumbo-Visma) +0:02
6 ALMEIDA João (UAE Team Emirates) +0:02
7 KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) +0:02
8 SOLER Marc (UAE Team Emirates) +0:02
9 POELS Wout (Bahrain – Victorious) +0:34
10 VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA – hansgrohe) +0:39
Vuelta A España 2023: General Classification Standings After Stage 8
1 KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) 30:51:06
2 SOLER Marc (UAE Team Emirates) +0:43
3 MARTINEZ Lenny (Groupama – FDJ) +1:00
4 POELS Wout (Bahrain – Victorious) +2:05
5 LANDA Mikel (Bahrain – Victorious) +2:29
6 EVENEPOEL Remco (Soudal – QuickStep) +2:31
7 ROGLIČ Primož (Jumbo-Visma) +2:38
8 VINGEGAARD Jonas (Jumbo-Visma) +2:42
9 MAS Enric (Movistar Team) +2:42
10 AYUSO Juan (UAE Team Emirates) +2:52
Vuelta A España Jerseys After Stage 8
KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma)
GROVES Kaden (AUS/Alpecin-Deceuninck)
SEPÚLVEDA Eduardo (ARG/Lotto-Dstny)
MARTINEZ Lenny (Groupama – FDJ)
Stage 8 Combativity Award Winner
LAZKANO Lopez (Movistar Team)