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Vuelta a España 2012: Stage 7


¡Hola! and welcome back to the Vuelta. Today's 164km stage 7 from Huesca to Alcañiz - Motorland Aragón in Northeastern Spain is pretty straightforward, without any particular difficulties. Another one for Argos-Shimano's John Degenkolb?

90km remaining from 164km

In the very beginning of the stage, just after the breakaway formed, Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Arnaud Courteille (FDJ-BigMat) crashed but have continued the race.

Again, we have a hot and sunny day here at the Vuelta, with temperatures reaching almost 35°Celsius. Enough to make the riders feel like they have a hair dryer blowing in their faces.

The best-placed rider of the breakaway is Lechuga, but at over 26 minutes off the GC leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), he's still no threat to the overall favourites.

Of course, the big news today is not Vuelta-related. The fact that Lance Armstrong has decided not to fight the charges brought against him by USADA anymore could mean that the Texan will be stripped off his seven Tour de France victories, and be banned for life by the American Agency soon.

69km remaining from 164km

Today's stage finish, the MotorLand Aragón just outside of Alcañiz, is a 5.344 km motorsport race track, built in 2009. Since its inauguration, it has been the venue for two MotoGP events and the Renault World Series.

Elia Viviani, the sprinter of Italian team Liquigas-Cannondale, was excited at the prospect of another sprint finish at such a well-suited location like the race track.

Argos is still leading the bunch out, together with RadioShack-Nissan, who are working for Daniele Bennati.

63km remaining from 164km

Maaskant (Garmin) and Tony Martin (Omega-QS) just crashed, probably touched wheels. Both are getting back on their bikes.

Martin has some mechaical problems with his back wheel. He'll have to chase back for a few kilometres....

54km remaining from 164km

They are coming up to a brisge crossing a river, good to know that htere is some water in the region...

Today, Joaquim Rodriguez is beating his record of number of days as the leader of the Vuelta. On the three previous occasions (2003, 2010, 2011), he didn't exceed one or two days.

They are coming up to a bridge crossing a river, good to know that htere is some water in the region...

The four escape riders only have 1:24 left up the road. But the bunch won't want to catch them too soon and has taken some speed out now, as the race heads towards the intermediate sprint.

The four front riders don't agree anymore. Rabon signals the others to ride, but not all of them seem to have power left.

RadioTour tells us it's 38°C outside. That's the Vuelta as we know it.

Nacer Bouhanni, the French national champion, would also like to score for FDJ-BigMat today. "The team will protect me all day. Bonnet and Rollin will lead me out. If they can't, I want them to tell me before. The last curve is 400 metres before the line. I know what I have to do for winning but I've never raced on a Moto GP circuit before," he commented on today's stage finish.

There's some wind blowing on the riders again today. Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) is not a fan of the hot gusts:

Allan Davis, on the other hand, is no stranger to sprinting on a Moto GP circuit. "I did it at the Tour of Japan and I finished third," he said.

Our reporter on the ground, Alasdair Fotheringham, has been trying to gather reactions to the USADA vs. Lance Armstrong case this morning, asking Vuelta director Javier Guillén for comment.

With less than 30 kilometres to go, the break just has a little more than a minute left.

Lindeman has bridged up to Rabon, while Aramendia struggles. But the Spaniard manages to get across.

27km remaining from 164km

Lindeman is in front now, with Rabon and Aramendia coming up again to join him. These three definitely don't get along.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step may have Rabon in the break, but team manager Patrick Lefévère will work for Gert Steegmans in the likely case of a sprint. Lefévère, however, wasn't sure Steegmans has what it takes to win a bunch sprint finish anymore.

20km remaining from 164km

They have reached Alcaniz now. Aramendia is sitting up.

Ha, Aramendia came back to the two for the second intermediate sprint, but Lindeman finally took the points... there was some rivalry between the Spaniard and the Northern European riders of the break.

Rabon and Lindeman are not giving up, trying desperately to stay away.

15km remaining from 164km

A RadioShack rider is at the front, followed by three Katusha riders. They are really driving it now, getting on a motorway again towards the race track.

12km remaining from 164km

Another crash in the middle of the field! Clement from Rabobank is down, Niermann, De la Fuente... but all get up again.

Gerdemann from RadioShack also went down, as well as Markel Irizar. They are more or less unhurt, though.

8km remaining from 164km

They have entered the Moto GP circuit now.

5km remaining from 164km

The second bunch is trying to come back, with Steve Morabito (BMC) hoping he won't lose additional time for the GC today.

2km remaining from 164km

Sky is working hard for Froome, there was a small gap but now they're back together.

And Degenkolb takes his third win!

He started his sprint from far out, and was able to fight off Bouhanni, as well as Viviani, who finishes second.

Davis finished third, Bouhanni fourth, and Bennati fifth.

Degenkolb is impressive: 3 victories out of 3 sprint finishes at this Vuelta!

Stage results

General classification after stage 7

Thanks for having joined us again today. Tomorrow's stage 8 will be one for the climbers again, with a summit finish in Andorra. Adios!

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