The Vuelta “got real”, so to speak, with stage 8 as we hit the first of three consecutive mountaintop finishes. The punters predicted that the big guns would keep their powder dry on the climb up to Alto Penas Blancas.

Team NetApp Endura spent considerable time on the front on the run in to the climb, suggesting that Koenig was ready to contest the finale. Spartacus sat on the front for the first 8km of the climb or so, just warming up for the ITT to come. Horner attacked as predicted, but everyone was able to cover. The favourites traded small attacks, but it was indeed Koenig who came to the line first. Daniel Moreno continued to impress with a strong second place.

Who tipped whom?

Valverde was the most-tipped rider with 40 backers. Someone took Graeme Brown, which suggests that they only saw the first 155km of the profile.

Rider | Number of tips

Alejandro Valverde Belmonte | 40
Vincenzo Nibali | 21
Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver | 19
Domenico Pozzovivo | 18
Rigoberto Uran | 17
Bauke Mollema | 15
Nicolas Roche | 12
Christopher Horner | 11
Daniel Moreno Fernandez | 10
Thibaut Pinot | 9

The experts

The experts nailed this one, with tips of Moreno and Roche for the most part. Pinot also got a nod, finishing with Roche and Basso. VeloTipper’s Woody went for Moreno, as did Wade Wallace from CyclingTips. They were oh so close to the win, but settled for second.

The InnerRing backed Roche which should cement his position in the top 10. Yesterday’s top 10 were a mishmash of Rodriguez, Mollema, Roche, Horner, Koenig, Henao and Valverde.

The stage winners

Eight tippers backed Koenig for the win: Alex Hersey, Paul Le Fevre, Stephen Heslop, Peter Gibson, Alex Rout, Olly Harris, Evan Dix and Scott Weston. Well done all!

At the other end, pity the 11 people who tipped the venga bus. Particularly the five who went for Betancur as the climber finished with the doof-doof music some 19 minutes down.

It should come as no surprise then, that the Egg of the Day award goes to Betancur. With 5 people backing him and a solid 19 minute loss, he caused more than an hour and a half worth of damage to the tipping peloton.

The leaders

We have yet another leader! Jackson Ankers takes over from Ter Culloty. Jackson’s tip of Roche proved fortuitous as Culloty opted for Mollema. Olly Harris moves in to second and James Colasante takes third. InnerRing moves from ninth to fourth.

Top Ten

  1. Jackson Ankers
  2. Olly Harris
  3. James Colasante
  4. inrng .com
  5. Brad Stephens
  6. Chris Seglenieks
  7. Derek Clarke
  8. Scott Weston
  9. Dan Collins
  10. Dom Geoghegan

Jackson Ankers also leads the Sprint category with 108 points. Darren Cathie is in second on 98.

The KOM is heating up with Paul Le Fevre, Stephen Heslop and Peter Gibson all on equal first with 12 points. Look for that competition to continue over the next two days.

Looking forward

Stage 9 is a 175km romp through Andalucia, finishing with the wall up to Valdepenas de Jaen. The final climb to town sees gradients in excess of 20%. The escapees could survive, but Purito must be the favourite. Other flyweights — Anton, Pozzevivo, Henao, Uran — should also finish well.

To see the full leaderboards after stage 8 of the Vuelta tipping competition, log in here.