Alejandro Valverde won his second stage of the Vuelta a Espana to close the gap on race leader Rudy Molard.
Valverde (Movistar) edged out Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in a dramatic uphill sprint in Almaden at the end of stage eight from Linares.
Molard (Groupama-FDJ) finished safely in the main group to retain his overall lead, although the 10 bonus seconds for the stage victory moved second-placed Valverde to within 37 seconds.
“They said it was a hard finish and people could even lose time,” Valverde said in quotes reported by cyclingnews.com
“My DS (sporting director) told me to get on Sagan’s wheel but I told him ‘I’m not going to go for the stage today – I’m going to focus on not losing time’.
“But in the end I got on Sagan’s wheel and was able to get past him. I know I’m in good shape but I was surprised with that.”
An early breakaway was allowed to gain a lead of more than 12 minutes before the peloton steadily reduced the gap and the last survivor was swallowed up with under six kilometres to go.
Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain-Merida) made a bid for the win with 300m remaining but was reeled in by Sagan before Valverde’s late charge gave him the victory on the line.