La Vuelta a España Stage 8: Boonen Top 10 After OPQS Capitalizes on Crosswinds
Belgian based Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team used the crosswinds to their advantage once again, this time keeping themselves in the front group formed by crosswinds in the final 30km of 207km La Vuelta a España Stage 8 on Saturday.
Tom Boonen finished 9th in the sprint out of the group, after being led out by two teammates going into the final kilometer. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) won the stage, with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) placing 2nd and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) finishing 3rd.
Boonen and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factor Racing) worked hard on the front with about 28km to go, and it became clear that the two riders known for their Classics prowess were helping to take advantage of anticipated crosswinds. The peloton quickly splintered into echelons. Eventually groups 1 and 2 rejoined, but a split formed once again in the final kilometers. A chase group including Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) had to go full gas to rejoin the lead group with 5.2km to go. Several OPQS were still present and able to contest the flat stage finale.
Rigoberto Uran was kept safely in the front group, finishing 23rd. Nikolas Maes helped to lead out Boonen. Wout Poels and Pieter Serry were also present in the front group for OPQS.
OPQS looks next to a high mountain stage on Sunday. 185km Stage 9 includes a Category 1 summit finish.
"Today I think we did a good job," Boonen said. "At 30 kilometers to go we knew there would be a crosswind. So, after a left turn we sped up and then we had good collaboration on the front. I had a good feeling going into the sprint but in the final probably we were too much in the front to win. At a race like La Vuelta you have to do everything perfectly to get the victory. The power was definitely there for us, but the execution was not perfect in the final. In any case I felt really good, like I could speed up easily. This gives me motivation and I am looking forward to the next stages. I will work in favor of Uran when it will be necessary, and then I will look for another chance for a stage in the next days of La Vuelta."
"It wasn't an easy stage," Uran said. "Sometimes it's like that, where a flat stage can be more dangerous than an uphill finish. You have to play close attention. Fortunately we have a team that knows how to ride in the wind. Guys like Nikolas Maes and Tom Boonen are big guys who can keep me protected from the wind and present in the front group. It wasn't easy to stay in the front, but for sure with guys like them it helps tremendously. Tomorrow we have the second uphill finish of La Vuelta. It's a climb I know. Our goal is to try and stay in the front and go with a good GC position into the time trial."