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David Moncoutie wins the 2010 Vuelta a Espana’s first trip into the mountains; Anton takes over lead

David Moncoutie (Cofidis) wins the Vuelta a España's first mountain stage on Saturday, as Euskaltel's Igor Anton takes over the lead

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David Moncoutie (Cofidis) knows how to pick them. For the third consecutive Vuelta a España, the veteran French climber has won a stage that he had checked off in the race book weeks before.

David Moncoutie survived the long break to take Stage 8 at the Vuelta.
David Moncoutie survived the long break to take Stage 8 at the Vuelta.

In 2008, he won a stage in the Spanish Pyrénées. Last year, it was Sierra Nevada. In Saturday’s hard-fought 190km eighth stage over the short but very steep Xorret de Catí climb, Moncoutie dropped his companions in a five-man move to claim the hat-trick victory in the 2010 Vuelta’s first successful breakaway win.

“Today I wanted to gain points in the King of the Mountains competition and try to win the stage, so I fulfilled my goals on both scores,” said Moncoutie. “I skipped the Tour this year, so the Vuelta for me is an important goal.”

Moncoutie has also won two straight King of the Mountain titles at the Vuelta and wants to win a record-tying third, but he’s locked in a heated battle with Serafín Martínez (Xacobeo-Galicia). The Spanish rider also slipped into the day’s five-man move on a stage that was riddled with five rated climbs.

“I wanted to win a stage here and win a third mountain jersey. One is completed and there’s still some work for the other,” said Moncoutie, 10 points behind leader Martínez, 36-26. “There are many more hard mountain stages to come, so I must be attentive and go on the attack.”

Antón slips into lead

Philippe Gilbert’s five-day run in the leader’s jersey ended on the steep, 15-percent grades of the Cat. 1 Xorret de Catí climb. Thousands of fans packed the narrow roads leading over the sharp summit just under 4km from the finish line.

Gilbert hung on as long as he could on the final climb and eventually sunk to 14th at 1:55 back

Gilbert shook off the effects of a massive pileup at 10km that also took down Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) and David Arroyo (Caisse d’Epargne), a crash that would later have major implications in determining the GC.

Race judges annulled a hot-sprint immediately following the pileup, a decision that would cost Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) the leader’s jersey. Rodríguez gained a two-second bonus, but since that was not awarded, and he ended the day just as he had started it: tied with Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

Rodríguez thought he would gain the jersey when he crossed the line first out of a leading chase group trailing end behind Moncoutie and three others from the breakaway.

Race judges later said Antón would take the jersey based on the accumulation of his overall finishing positions so far in the Vuelta. The normal tie-breaker, taken at tenths-of-seconds in individual time trials, does not apply because there hasn’t been one yet.

Despite the behind-the-scenes wrangling, Antón was content to don the Vuelta’s red leader’s jersey.

“I’m glad to get this jersey, just as I was happy to win the stage the other day,” Antón said. “We will defend it as long as we can. Whether I win or not is another story, but even having the jersey will be helpful for the future. Some riders lost time today, but this Vuelta is far from decided.”

Van Garderen, Danielson holding tough

The Catí climb saw the candidates for overall victory surge to the front. Following Rodríguez and Antón were Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and the Cervélo duo of Carlos Sastre and Xavier Tondo.

2010 Vuelta a Espana, stage 8: Danielson held his own on the final climb
Danielson held his own on the final climb

Working together, the five gained more than one minute on Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) and two minutes on two-time Vuelta champ Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

“The legs responded today and the best part is that Carlos was with me,” said Tondo, now fourth at 42 seconds back. “These climbs are not my preferred terrain. I hope to be even better when the Vuelta heads north.”

Also riding strong were the American pair of Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transitions) and Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia). Danielson stayed close to cross the line 13th at 31 seconds behind Rodríguez to slot into 12th overall at 1:42 back. Van Garderen crossed the line 21st at 2:36 back and slotted into 10th overall at 1:26 back. It appeared Van Garderen might have had to make a wheel change.

The 65th Vuelta continues Sunday with another rollercoaster stage across the mountains of Alicante, with seven medium mountains in the 187.7km ninth stage from Calpe to Alcoy. It’s another stage ideal for stage-hunters.

Brief Results:
Stage 8

  • 1. David Moncoutie, Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne , at
  • 2. Serafín MartÍnez, Xacobeo Galicia, at 54
  • 3. Johann Tschopp, BBox Bouygues Telecom, at 54
  • 4. José Luis Arrieta, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 54
  • 5. Joaquin Rodriguez, Team Katusha, at 1:29
  • Full Results

Overall Standings

  • 1. Igor Anton, Euskaltel-Euskadi , 32h 28′ 49”
  • 2. Joaquin Rodriguez, Team Katusha, same time
  • 3. Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas-Doimo, at 2
  • 4. Xavier Tondo, Cervélo TestTeam, at 42
  • 5. Marzio Bruseghin, Caisse D’Epargne, at 1:10
  • Full Results