Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qasaqstan) launches the first attack and the race kicks off behind immediately.
As the race hits the salida real, the peloton lines out across the road as teams prepare to attack or to mark attacks.
The riders look tense as they ride through the town towards the end of the neutral zone, anticipating a difficult stage which is likely to have an explosive start on the first climb of the day.
Today is likely to be an important day for the GC contenders, as the general classification has begun to take its shape over the opening week.
Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) is in the red jersey and takes a 21 second lead over Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) into the stage with the gaps in the general classification behind them already opening up. An impressive opening week from Mas has kept him in third while Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) sits in fourth, a minute back.
The white jersey Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) is eleven seconds behind Roglič and a trio of Ineos-Grenadiers riders – Pavel Sivakov, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Carlos Rodriguez – are just behind the 19-year-old.
Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), Jai Hindley and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) are almost two minutes in arrears while Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers) has lost almost three minutes.
And we’re off! The dignitaries have cut the ribbon and the riders are rolling out into the short neutralised zone.
Three riders will not take to the start line, however, due to COVID-19 positive tests. Team DSM announced that roommates Nikias Arndt and Mark Donovan have both tested positive while Arkéa-Samsic confirmed that Anthony Delaplace had also tested positive. Seven riders have now left the race due to the virus. You can read the full story here.
Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) has also abandoned the race.
To reach the Colláu Fancuaya, the race travels 153.4km today from La Pola Llaviana over the jagged mountains so typical of the Vuelta. Immediately after the start, the peloton will start climbing up the category 2 Alto de la Colladona, before making their way over another four categorised climbs to the foot of the final climb.
The riders are signing on in the town of La Pola Llaviana, small town in the Asturias. Last time it hosted a start in 2020, the peloton finished atop the Angliru but today the race heads for the Colláu Fancuaya – a 10.3km mountain with gradients as steep as 16.2% that has never been raced before.
Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) took an emotional win from the breakaway yesterday, ahead of Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan) and Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious). To catch up before the action starts today, you can read all about here.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage 8 of the Vuelta a España.