Vuelta a Espana #8: Serge Pauwels comes out fighting to finish 4th

Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors) won stage 8 of the Vuelta a Espana. Jan Polanc (UAE Emirates) finished in 2nd position and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) rounded out the stage podium in 3rd. Another faultless performance saw Chris Froome (Team Sky) keep the race lead.

It was another 200km stage at the Vuelta a Espana today and one that suited the breakaway yet again. As expected, the fight to make it into the breakaway took some time and it was only after 40km of racing that 21 riders got away. Despite only having 5 riders left in the race, Serge Pauwels made the escape for our African Team.

The peloton let the gap go out to 5’00” and held it there all day. With Bora having 3 riders in the lead group, they drove the break to the final 5km climb with the lead intact. This was a good situation for Pauwels as he was in contention for the stage victory, although the short steep cat 1 climb was certainly more suited to the likes of Alaphilippe.

Majka attacked the climb, closely followed by Alaphilippe and Pauwels. The Polish rider kept surging on the lower slopes and this distanced our Belgian climber, but Pauwels quickly got into his own rhythm. Polanc went over the top of Pauwels and just about caught the leading duo up front before the 3km descent to the line began, on the descent though, he did bridge the gap. The trio sprinted for the stage win where Alaphilippe prevailed, Pauwels hung on for a credible and hard fought 4th place.

Serge Pauwels – Rider
I always said I wanted to take it easy for 1 week. Today, stage 8, I thought it was a good opportunity to get in the break because for sure, Sky were going to start getting tired. I also believe tomorrow will be a real GC day as Contador is really going well and he probably wants to go for it tomorrow so I had had to go all in today. I made it into the break, which in itself was pretty important. I tried to keep cool because it was again very hot, I was pouring water over my head all day. In the end, I didn’t have the legs to go with Majka and Alaphilippe, they are more punchy but I fought with all I had. It’s not a bad result as I haven’t been feeling as strong this first week as I was in the tour, so I can be happy.