Vuelta a Espana 2017: Chris Froome gains time as Julian Alaphilippe wins stage eight

Red jersey and resurgent Alberto Contador gain time on rivals

Chris Froome (Team Sky) extended his overall lead at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana as Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep Floors) claimed stage eight success.

Alaphilippe beat Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) and Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe) as the breakaway succeeded once again, with the Frenchman claiming victory on a day when one of his compatriots, Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) was sent home for refusing to follow team orders.

Froome, meanwhile, finished 14th – one place behind Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) – with the Spaniard the only GC contender able to stick with the race leader on the Alto Xorret de Cati.

Chris Froome’s acceleration on the final climb put time into most of his rivals (pic – Sirotti)

The GC had already been shaken up at the start of the day, when Team Sunweb pulled Barguil – sat 13th overall overnight – from the race, for riding for himself and defying team orders.

The Tour de France King of the Mountains is leaving the team this winter to join Fortuneo-Oscaro, and had wanted to ride for himself, not the team, in the mountains.

For those still in the race, there was another nervous start to proceedings, not helped by early crashes in the peloton before a breakaway belatedly went clear after 35km.

Among the 21 riders in the breakaway was Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), who started the day with little more than a three-minute deficit to Froome.

It meant plenty of work on the front of the bunch for Team Sky, and when they turned the screw on the run-in to the final climb the peloton was trimmed to size.

Bora-hansgrohe had a numerical advantage in the breakaway, and worked hard to use it on the climb as they positioned Majka near the front of the group.

Alaphilippe got up with the Pole, however, with the gap to the peloton still three minutes as the front group splintered behind them.

The peloton too began to split on the climb, and it was the resurgent Contador on the march again as he earned a gap in a small group which also contained Simon Yates (Orica-Scott).

More attacks from the Spaniard followed, but Froome chased and then kicked himself – Contador proving to be the only rider who could follow before they hit the descent.

Up the road, Polanc bridged across to the two leaders with the finish line in site, but Alaphilippe – by far the best sprinter of the three – kicked hard from more than 600m out and bagged victory.

Julian Alaphilippe claimed victory on stage eight of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana (pic – Sirotti)

After the original breakaway had crossed the line in dribs and drabs, Contador then led Froome across 1’27” behind – gaining 17 seconds on Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott).

Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) was in the next group, 11 seconds further back, while brother Simon eventually finished 34th – another 40 seconds later.

It means Froome’s now leads by 28 seconds from Chaves, with Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing) in third at 41 seconds.

Vuelta a Espana 2017: stage eight – result

1) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – QuickStep Floors – 4.37.55hrs
2) Jan Polanc (SVN) – UAE Team Emirates +2”
3) Rafal Majka (POL) – Bora-hansgrohe – ST
4) Serge Pauwels (BEL) – Dimension Data +26”
5) Nelson Oliveira (POR) – Movistar +28”
6) Michel Kreder (NED) – Aqua Blue Sport +32”
7) Maxime Monfort (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal – ST
8) Bart de Clercq (BEL) – Lott-Soudal +34”
9) Alberto Losada (ESP) – Katusha-Alpecin +37
10) Emanuel Buchmann (GER) – Bora-hansgrohe +1.04

General classification

1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 32.26.13hrs
2) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-Scott +28”
3) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – BMC Racing +41”
4) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida +53”
5) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing +58”
6) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +1.06
7) David de la Cruz (ESP) – QuickStep Floors +1.08
8) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +1.18
9) Michael Woods (CAN) – Cannondale-Drapac +1.41
10) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha-Alpecin +1.57

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