XORRET DE CATI, Spain – Chris Froome made a strong charge in the final climb to increase his overall Spanish Vuelta lead in Saturday’s eighth stage, which was won by Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe.
Alaphilippe broke from the leading pack in the final meters (yards) and crossed the line unchallenged to win his first Grand Tour stage after 199.5 kilometers (124 miles) from Hellin to Xorret de Cati.
“I’m speechless, it’s unbelievable,” said the Quick-Step rider. “I didn’t expect to win the stage today. I wasn’t feeling so good in the past two or three stages. The team has been doing great since the start of La Vuelta. We’re always on the front.”
Jan Polanc was second and Rafal Majka third.
Froome, the Tour de France winner, left the peloton behind at the steep final mountain and extended his lead over Colombian Esteban Chaves to 28 seconds.
Nicolas Roche of Ireland remained third, 41 seconds behind Froome.
Three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador, who is retiring from cycling after this year’s race, stayed close to Froome throughout Saturday’s stage and improved to 17th overall, but the Spaniard remains more than three minutes off the lead.
Froome is trying to become the third rider to complete the Tour-Vuelta double in the same season. He has never won the Vuelta, finishing second three times, including last year.
Before the stage, Team Sunweb said French rider Warren Barguil, who won two stages at the Tour de France, had been removed from the team for not obeying orders.
Sunweb said Barguil refused to stay behind to help a teammate in Saturday’s stage.
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