Konig wins 8th stage of Vuelta, Roche takes lead
ESTEPONA, Spain -- Czech rider Leopold Konig used a final uphill surge to win the eighth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Saturday, while Nicolas Roche took over the leader's red jersey.
Konig passed Igor Anton before holding off Daniel Moreno's sprint to claim the 104-mile ride from Jerez de la Frontera ending with a category-one summit finish at Alto de Penas Blancas.
Konig finished with a time of 4 hours, 9 minutes, 46 seconds. Moreno was 1 second behind, and Roche crossed 5 seconds back.
The strong day moved Konig up to fifth in the overall standings, 29 seconds off Roche's leading pace.
"The first part was steep and the final part more steady. I knew that if I survived the first part I could attack in the second," Konig said. "We are going for the overall classification and to get in the top 10, but also to pick up some stages. So it was a great day for us."
The 25-year-old Konig, who rides for NetApp-Endura, also won a stage of the Tour of California earlier this month.
The ride that took the peloton along the southern coast and then up a steep mountain with spectacular views of the sea below shook up the top part of the overall standings after two days of tranquility.
Roche, the Irish SaxoBank-Tinkoff cyclist, opened up a 17-second lead over Moreno and American veteran Christopher Horner. Former leader Vincenzo Nibali ended up 18 seconds behind.
Former Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde was 31 seconds behind in seventh place, while fellow Spanish favorite Joaquim Rodriguez was 1:03 back in 10th.
Roche, who won the second stage last Sunday, said he was surprised that he had taken the lead from Nibali.
"The other day when I attacked and got the win I missed getting the red jersey," Roche said. "I thought that if Nibali focused on other riders I could pick up a few seconds here and there and that's what happened today.
"Every year I come to the Vuelta with the dream of wearing the red jersey one day. It's incredible."
Garmin Sharp rider Daniel Martin abandoned the race before the day's start after falling on Friday.
Sunday's ride is a 104-mile mountainous stage from Antequera to Valdepenas de Jaen. The three-week grand tour finishes in Madrid on Sept. 15.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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