Nicolas Roche just about leads the Vuelta

Nicolas Roche has actually got 17 seconds on Chris Horner in second place. It’s a reasonable buffer, but he was making faces like someone was tearing out clumps of pubic hair near the finish. Those 17 seconds might disappear in the blink of a watering eye.

Roche came third. The good news for fans of people called Leopold is that Czech rider, Leopold Konig came first. I know nothing about him beyond the fact that he’s just won stage eight of the Vuelta, but I like him for the name alone.

Dan Moreno was second by a second and lies equal second overall, if that isn’t too confusing. Moreno might actually prove to be a realistic contender for the overall this year. He was ahead of all the big names today. Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez were 19 seconds down and Vincenzo Nibali was 27 seconds down, although there’s talk that he had problems with his chain.

A potential change of stance on Ivan Basso

I sneered at Ivan Basso’s chances in my race preview, but he was only eight seconds down today and looked in good nick. He doesn’t skip along like the finest climbers; he sits and slogs it out – not unlike Bradley Wiggins. I’m not officially changing my position, but consider this advance warning that I’m thinking about it.

Meanwhile, down by the wayside

A few people have fallen – literally in Dan Martin’s case. Roche’s cousin had to abandon the race having hit his head during stage seven. Roman Kreuziger lost five minutes, so clearly hasn’t recovered from the Tour. Bauke Mollema lost two minutes odd and is probably in a similar position. Laurens Ten Dam lost about a minute and is probably heading the same way.

Stage nine

Uphill finish. Here’s the profile. The final slope is only about a kilometre long, but seriously steep, so it should be fun – particularly being as it comes after a first category climb.