Arndt survives rain in Spain to snatch Stage 8 win

2019-08-31 18:20
Nikias Arndt (AFP)

Igualada - Sunweb rider Nikias Arndt survived a late downpour and treacherous conditions to snatch victory in stage eight of the Vuelta a Espana as Nicolas Edet took over as overall leader.

The 27-year-old Arndt was a part of the main breakaway and, as the rain hammered down, he came through in the final sprint to claim the victory in Igualada, near Barcelona, at the end of a 166.9km ride from Vals.

In the sprint, the German edged out Spaniard Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural), who finished second, and third-placed Belgian Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal).

"I always said I wanted to win a stage and now I have won at the Vuelta," said Arndt, who also won a stage of the Giro d'Italia three years ago.

Frenchman Edet, who was the best climber at the Vuelta in 2013, took advantage of a general apathy among the favourites to finish nine minutes ahead of the peloton and so take the red jersey from Miguel Angel Lopez.

Edet, who finished 11th on the day with the same time as Arndt, now leads the Belgian Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) by two minutes 21 seconds with Lopez a further 40 seconds back in third.

The largely flat stage, which featured just one significant climb in the last 30km, was seen as something of a breather between a hilly seventh stage on Friday, when Lopez took the red jersey off Teuns, and Sunday's brutal stage in the mountains of Andorra.

But it turned in to a dramatic day's racing which rewarded the riders prepared to take a risk in the wet conditions.

When the initial 21-man breakaway set off, the main GC contenders resisted the urge to follow. 

Arndt tucked in and allowed his team-mate Martijn Tusveld to take the strain. 

"We were in communication," said Arndt.

"He went and I stayed back to save my legs. He was ahead so I could sit back.

"The team was super good. I got my chance and my win."

Tusveld was one of several casualties on the final downhill, landing heavily after his bike wheels slid from underneath him. A television motorbike also crashed as the rain turned the roads slippery and produced a hectic run-in.

"The rain came and changed the game," said Trek's Peter Stetina who was also a part of the breakaway. 

"The riders were risking life and limb on the downhill, there were guys throwing themselves left and right."

Zdenek Stybar was the first to test the resolve of the breakaway but, ultimately, it was Arndt who had the legs to punch through in the final 200 metres to claim the win.

Sunday's ninth stage in Andorra will be brutal with five categorised climbs in less than 100km and an off-road section close to the finish.

"Tomorrow I want to come through," Arndt told Eurosport. 

"I will enjoy tonight but tomorrow is another day.

"But I have good legs, my team-mates have good legs, I think we will come through."

Read more on:    cycling


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