(Photo: Roberto Bettini)
David Moncoutie of Cofidis won the eighth stage of the Vuelta a Espa¤a, a 151km ride from Andorra to Pla de Beret but it was Levi Leipheimer of Astana who took the leader’s golden jersey. “I only had 90 seconds advantage on the favorites at the bottom of the climb, so it was a close-run thing,” said Moncoutie. “I only knew for sure that I could win when the climb flattened out two kilometers from the finish.”
Moncoutie has struggled the last two seasons with injuries. In 2006 his season was wrecked by a knee injury, then in May 2007, he broke his leg in another big crash.” After all the problems I had, this is the first race where I truly feel I’m back to my old climbing self,” he said.
Race favorite Alberto Contador attacked hard and gained a few seconds on his main rival Carlos Sastre as the race crossed the border from Andorra back into Spain. Alejandro Valverde, who had complained of feeling off color on Saturday, was able to hold Contador’s wheel and then out sprint him for second place on the day. Leipheimer now has a 20-seconds lead on Contador with Valverde 49-seconds adrift.
Moncoutie had been one of a five-strong breakaway that escaped 38-kilometers into the stage. The breakaway contained countrymen Christophe Kern and Sebastien Joly, Spaniard Juan Manuel Garate and Russian Nikita Eskov. Moncoutie attacked his breakaway companions 20-kilometers from the line. Joly looked set to contest the finale, but then fell back on the final ascent to Pla de Beret.
63rd Vuelta a Espa¤a
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Stage 8 Andorra – Pla de Beret./ 151.1km
1. David Moncoutie (FRA), 151 km in 4 hr 24min 58sec
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) at 34sec
3. Alberto Contador (ESP) s.t.
4. Igor Anton (ESP) s.t.
5. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP) 39sec
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) 28 hr 20min 03sec
2. Alberto Contador (ESP) at 21sec
3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) at 49sec
4. Carlos Sastre (ESP) 1:27
5. Ezequiel Mosquera (ESP) 1:59