Jasper Stuyven (Trek Factory Racing) bounced back from a huge crash which marred stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana to sprint to victory in Murcia.
Stuyven was one of a number of riders to hit the deck in the huge crash which forced several big names out of the race, namely Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin).
Lotto-Soudal’s Kris Boeckmans was reportedly unconscious too, leaving the race in an ambulance, though his team said his condition was stable and he had regained conscience before being put into a medically-induced coma in hospital.
Race leader Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) was caught up by the incident but emerged unscathed to keep hold of the red jersey.
Stuyven’s win, the biggest of his career, later transpired to have come despite a fractured scaphoid but his victory was overshadowed by the flurry of incidents and withdrawals.
After surviving the crash, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) – wearing the green jersey – also saw his Vuelta put into jeopardy after an incident involving a neutral service vehicle which saw him too hit the deck.
The crashes marred what had otherwise been a quiet stage – a break of six having gone clear after some 35km of racing, including Iljo Keisse (Etixx-QuickStep) again.
Jimmy Engoulvent (Team Europcar), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Tom van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida) and Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural) were the others and their lead peaked at more than four-and-a-half minutes.
At the foot of the day’s first climb that was down to less than two minutes – despite a lull in action in the peloton as the groups out of the back, including the one containing Chaves, rejoined the main bunch.
Howes struck out alone but crashed on the descent, overshooting a bend, and while his injury was not as serious as those in the bunch it was enough to derail his bid for a stage win as Madrazo rode past.
In the peloton, Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) and team-mate Gianluca Brambilla both made attempts to jump off the front but were brought back – Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) also trying before suffering a crash.
Chaves, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Movistar duo Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) even tried their luck to no avail before Sagan went clear only to see his chances scuppered by the crash.
Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal), in typical fashion, was the last man to attack but it came down to a final sprint and Stuyven fought through the pain to beat Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) and Kevin Reza (FDJ) to victory.
Vuelta a Espana 2015: stage eight – result
1) Jasper Stuyven (BEL) – Trek Factory Racing – 4.06.05hrs
2) Pello Bilbao (ESP) – Caja Rural – ST
3) Kevin Reza (FRA) – FDJ
4) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Movistar
5) Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) – MTN-Qhubeka
6) Tosh van der Sande (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
7) Julien Simon (FRA) – Cofidis
8) Pieter Serry (BEL) – Etixx-QuickStep
9) Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) – Movistar
10) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Team Sky
1) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 31.12.18hrs
2) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Team Giant-Alpecin +10”
3) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Team Sky +36”
4) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +49”
5) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +56”
6) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +57”
7) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana – ST
8) Daniel Moreno (ESP) – Katusha +1.18
9) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +1.19
10) Mikel Nieve (ESP) – Team Sky +1.21