Nairo Quintana kept the Vuelta red jersey Colombian property when he outshone the rest of the favorites in the grueling La Camperona climb in the finale of the 8th stage won by veteran Russian Sergey Lagutin (Katusha), one of the eleven escapees of the day. Lagutin, 35, outwitted Frenchmen Axel Domont (Ag2R) and Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) in the final stretch, to snatch a career-topping stage win. The big battle between the GC leaders revealed the limits of race leader Darwin...
The stage in videos
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The stage in pictures
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) during stage 8 of the 2016 Vuelta a España © Graham Watson
A plain at the foot of the mountain
During the eighth stage, the peloton will ride through the plains of the Duero basin until it nears the Cistierna. There, we will jump back in time over 150 million years as we enter the Cantabrian mountain range. The contrast in landscapes could not be greater and the riders will be the first to feel it. In the basin, they will ride on sand and clay formed in the last 30 million years. The topography is smooth, with a progressive ascension, interrupted only by a few rivers. However, once they enter the mountain range, the topography becomes abrupt and the Esla Valley cuts through rocks that are over 250 million years old.
The stage begins in the Valderaduey River Valley but soon passes into the Esla River Valley, through which it continues almost until the end. When going from one valley to the other, we pass near the Villafafila Lagoons Natural Reserve, an area so flat that the water, instead of flowing from one river to another, forms endorheic wetlands that are an oasis in the centre of these steppes.
The rest of the stage follows the Esla River, whose active and abandoned meanders can be seen from the sky, very close to the route between Villaveza del Agua and Valencia de Don Juan. Geologists always insist that the rivers are alive and that these meanders, that change constantly, are proof of that.
In Cistierna, the landscape changes drastically because we cross the limit between the Duero basin, with its plains and sediments, and the Cantabrian mountain range, with its mountains and ports. From Cistierna onwards, the rock layers are folded and there is an abundance of limestone, that dissolves easily and forms galleries and caves through which the water can travel. This leads to the creation of many springs, such as the Coro Spring, that has been in use since Roman times.
Once we leave Cistierna, the road follows one of the many gorges that descend from the mountain range and, when we turn West, we enter the Sabero Valley, one of the Cantabrian mountain range's coal mining regions. It was the Sabero mines that led to the establishment of some of the first industries in Spain, and the Castilla y Leon Iron, Steel and Mining Museum can now be visited.
Endorheic lagoon. A lagoon that does not flow out or connect to other rivers within the region. All the water that arrives in the lagoon stays there until it filters into subterranean waters or evaporates. Often, the evaporation of its water leads to the creation of salt.
Meandre. Any curve in a river is called a meander. The word is actually the name of a current river in Turkey that was already known by the Ancient Greeks, the Meander River, that featured many curves, although the most famous was the one that went around the Greek city of Magnesia.
Jersey wearers after the stage 21
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