Gallopin back on track in Vuelta a Espana after tumultuous mid-season

Frenchman claims solo stage win in Pozo Alcon

Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) has put a seemingly non-stop series of crashes, illness and injuries behind him with a vengeance at the Vuelta a España, as the Frenchman secured a superb solo win in stage seven.

Gallopin revealed he has had no fewer than four big crashes this season, the worst of which, at the French Nationals' wrecked his Tour de France.

The Vuelta a España has proved another story, with the former Tour de France leader blasting to his first WorldTour win since Paris-Nice in 2015.

Currently placed fifth overall following his fine late solo breakaway to victory in Pozo Alcon, Gallopin has upped his game on GC and will now be "keeping that going as long as I can," he told reporters afterwards.

"But I was here to get a stage win, and that was the team's objective as well, and I knew I had to seize the day today. [Friday]."

Gallopin recognised that after winning early on at the Etoile de Besseges, he had faded off the radar, although each time he managed to return to form, misfortune had struck soon afterwards. The national championships, where he clinched silver in the time trial but then crashed badly in the road race, were a case in point.

"I had a good winter and won the Etoile de Bessèges [in February]. But then I got sick at Paris-Nice," he related.

"I had four big crashes, and in the one at the nationals - I fractured some ribs." He rode the Tour de France, nonetheless, but he was a fading force, and on the Alpe d'Huez, stage, he quit. Then in his comeback at the Clásica San Sebastian, which he has both won and finished twice second in the past, Gallopin crashed again.

"The fact that the team said they trusted me to do a good ride here was very important for my confidence," Gallopin argued. "And then doing so well in the hilly stages here in the first part of the race was very good for my confidence.

"Of course the Italian end-of-season races and racing well in the French Worlds team for my leaders" - in principle, Romain Bardet and Julian Alaphilippe - "are goals, but there's lots of Vuelta to come, too.

"The GC is an idea, now, too and I will keep that going too. But there's no pressure. A top ten place would be great. But if I lose time and see I'm going to end up 15th on GC or something, then I'll switch back to going for more stage wins."

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