Trek Factory Racing's Jesper Stuyven unleashed a powerful sprint to take the crazy eighth stage of an ever-eventful Vuelta a Espana in Murcia. BMC's Tejay van Garderen exited the race after a crash left him and his GC hopes wounded, in the form of a probable collarbone break.
Stuyven's sprint was improbable right up to the very end. Caja Rural's Pello Bilbao nearly had the win, swinging to his left towards Stuyven's path as the Dutchman found a little bit more to hold off Bilbao and FDJ's Kevin Reza. Prior to that, Stuyven's moment was almost lost to one of Alberto Losada, Kenny Ellisonde and Jose Goncalves, who sped into Murcia under threat from the chasing peloton but well organized and looking strong to finish off the downhill stage. They received help from an official vehicle that managed to crash Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan, who had been among those seeking to chase down the lead trio in the final km (along with local boy Alejandro Valverde). But the catch happened regardless, and after a threat inside the final 2km by Lotto-Soudal's Adam Hansen, who went alone and made it to within a few hundred meters of poaching this one, the sprint took shape.
Crashes were an issue, as the peloton rolled down from Spain's southern mountains into Murcia. One pileup took out not only van Garderen but Dan Martin, Nacer Bouhanni and Kris Boeckmans, all of whom withdrew from the race as well. The crash briefly left overall leader Esteban Chaves of Orica-GreenEdge behind, but the race eventually regrouped and there were no changes to the leaders of any jerseys.
- Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing 4:06:05
- Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
- Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr
- Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
- Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - Qhubeka
- Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 31:12:18
- Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:10
- Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:00:36
- Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:49
- Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:56