Stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana presented an interesting course with a pan flat run of 178km into a savage 3km climb that had an average gradient of 13%. The day was one which suited the breakaway, just as it did in 2014 when we raced to the same finish line during our African Team's debut grand tour. Jacques Janse van Rensburg was motivated to make the break of the day and our South African did just that.
Janse van Rensburg joined 10 other riders in the escape and on sweltering hot day, they continually opened up the gap over the peloton. As the finishing climb approached, the gap peaked at 10 minutes for Janse van Rensburg's breakaway and it was certain they would decide the stage.
The attacks started from the break with 9km to go and as Katusha had two riders in the break, they had the upper hand when Jhonatan Restrepo got a gap on the rest of the break. Lagutin was able to sit in and save his legs while Janse van Rensburg had to take responsibility to ensure the attackers were brought back before the climb.
Restrepo reached the climb first but the fresher legs behind soon caught and passed him. Janse van Rensburg was digging as deep as he could but the climb was savage and unrelenting. Lugutin waited until the final 200m to launch his decisive attack and won the stage. Janse van Resnburg came home in an impressive 6th place after a very difficult climb.
The rest our African Team riders all made it home safely and the good news is that Igor Anton is starting to feel a fair bit better after three days of suffering with stomach pain.