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Vuelta a Espana 2016: Stage 7


 Live coverage of stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana, Maceda to Puebla de Sanabria.

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana. We're in Maceda for the start of today's stage, with the official roll out taking place in just over 30 minutes from now. Riders are signing on at the moment as we countdown to the start. 


The peloton face 158.5 kilometres of racing today with three categorised climbs on the route. It's the perfect terrain for a breakaway to make it to the finish and without a summit finish - there's a long stretch between the final climb and the line - it's likely we'll see the GC men save their powder for later in the race. 

Like almost every day in the Vuelta so far, there's few flat kms in the stage. Here's a map of the profile. 


Taking the race out of Galicia and into Zamora, this saw-tooth medium mountains stage is one for a breakaway but they will have to be tough as the three categorised climbs (two cat 3, one cat 2) are split by myriad unkind topographical protrusions. It's 18km from the last peak to the finish, with a 7km flat run-in to survive.


Coming into the stage this is where things stand on GC:


1 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 21:45:21
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:28
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:32
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:38
5 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:07
7 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Sky 0:01:12
8 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:14
9 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:22
10 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 0:01:28
11 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team
12 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:01:52


The first climb, the Pto de Allariz comes after 25km of racing. It's just a third cat. ascent but that's the perfect launchpad for a break to form. The Alto de Fumaces, another third cat. climb comes after nearly 80km of race, while the final ascent the Alto de Padornelo is inside the final 20km. There's an intermediate sprint thrown in for good measure. Given that Saturday is a major summit finish it will be interesting to see if any of the early KOM contenders try and make it into the break in order to bolster their position. 


Here's how things currently stand in the KOM competition.


1 Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ 10 pts
2 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 8
3 Omar Fraile (Spa) Dimension Data 6
4 Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie 5
5 Simon Pellaud (Swi) IAM Cycling 4
6 Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 4
7 Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha 3


Coming up we'll be joined by Matt White, team boss from Orica BikeExchange. 


We're around ten minutes out from the official start. Froome, Contador, Chaves and all the other GC riders have signed on and we're about to start stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana.


The peloton has begun to roll out through the town of Maceda. The flag will drop shortly and we'll see frantic attacking almost as soon as that happens. 


It's a relatively flat start to the stage but the roads around here are undulating for most of the early sections. We then hit the first third cat climb of the day after 25km of racing.


And without hesitation the attacks have started with several moves looking to go clear. Cofidis and Cannondale Drapac are in the early moves but nothing is sticking quite yet. 


The bunch remains intact after 8km of racing. A few more moves pop off the front but once more the peloton react and bring it all back together. 


Away from the Vuelta, Vincenzo Nibali is back on the bike after his crash at the Olympics in the road race, earlier this month. 


“I’d like to race before the end of the season but naturally without any particular ambitions,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.

You can read the full story, here.


According to the race organisers, Michal Kwiatkowski has climbed off and abandoned the race. The former world champion held the leader's jersey just a few days ago but he's now in a team car and on his way home. We'll have more on that development later. At the front of the race a break has gone clear and it has a few seconds on the peloton. 


That's s big blow for Chris Froome, losing a rider as strong and savvy as Michal Kwiatkowski this early in the race. The Pole has been inconsistent throughout large portions of the season, however. 


Strong one day, sick the next at the Dauphine, he was left out of Team Sky's Tour de France team. He returned at the Olympics and had an incredibly strong day in the saddle, working for Majka. He came here with high hopes but it's all over now. We'll look for a response from the team. 


141km remaining from 158km

LeTour report that the six leaders in the break with 141km to go are Victor Campenaerts (Lotto NL - Jumbo), Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal), Davide Villella (Cannondale - Drapac), Vegard Laengen (IAM Cycling) and Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis).


The leading six are on the first climb of the race, after 25km of action and they hold a lead of 1'42. It's a descent looking break with a few strong work horses in there. So few out-and-out sprinters in this race so the chances of staying away are quite high. For now, the peloton appear willing to let the six-man move take time on them. 


The six leaders realise that they've created an excellent opening on the stage and have worked well together thus far, with the gap now heading over three minutes as they continue to climb the Puerto de Allariz. The bunch, with a few BMC riders near the front simply tap out a steady tempo but they've clearly let this move go.


#LV2016 on top of the Puerto de Allariz the escapees have 3'22".

@Lotto_Soudal Fri, 26th Aug 2016 12:29:37

.@VCampenaerts is part of the breakaway in the 7th stage of #LV2016.

@LottoJumbo_road Fri, 26th Aug 2016 12:26:44

The six leaders are about to crest the top of the climb and their lead is holding at 3'14. 


Happy to join @LottoJumbo_road for the upcoming seasons. Could not imagine being anywhere else #friends

@Stefclement Fri, 26th Aug 2016 12:32:40

No sign Etixx at the front of the bunch yet, so they have no intent of chasing this down for another sprint. BMC have also moved off the front and we have Trek and Giant Alpecin sharing the workload. 


125km remaining from 158km

Mate was first to the top of the climb, leading Stake Laengen and Armee over the top. The bunch are at 3'29 with 125km to go.


TJ Sport Consultation to take over @lampre_merida's WorldTour licence

@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 26th Aug 2016 12:34:56

This is a critical point in the race because it's where the break really need to extend their advantage over the peloton. So far, though, it's just not happening and the gap is holding at 3'17. That's not a good sign for their chances to be honest. Still there's a long way to go.


And it's still Trek and Giant Alpecin who are leading things out at the front of the peloton at the moment. They're hoping to bring it back together for possibly Fabio Felline (Trek).


It's tough going for the riders in the break. They've unable - as yet - to extend their lead over four minutes despite the effort. Etixx are also looking to start working soon. 


110km remaining from 158km

Doomed. Well it's not looking good with BMC and a number of other teams lining out the bunch and setting a fast tempo. It cuts into the break's advantage, which is holding at 3'41 with 110km to go.


They're digging in, the break, as we head through the feedzone with 105km to go. The gap is holding at 3'30 as Etixx and Giant commit a man or two to the front of the peloton.


Vuelta a Espana stage 6 video highlights #LaVuelta #LV2016

@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 26th Aug 2016 13:19:00

Breaking(ish) news: Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins will team up and ride the Ghent Six Day together later this year. It's set to be Wiggins' final race before he hangs up his wheel. Read the story and the quotes, right here.


Further down the bunch and Valverde is riding tempo behind his Movistar teammates. Simply astonishing that he's here to potentially ride GC for the third time this year in a Grand Tour. 


News regarding Kwiatkowski, he's out with back pain, according to his team but he will now undergo further tests. 

The gap has come down by almost a minute as Etixx send fresh legs towards the front of the peloton.


Lets hear from Matt White now. He's not at the Vuelta but he's been paying close attention with Chaves in the running for the podium and Simon Yates coming away with a stage win on stage 6.

CN: Saturday is a pure summit finish. What are you expecting to see, with a view to both of your leading riders?

MW: We'll see from the big four guys but the first week has been hard and few have been caught out with just how hard it's been. The heat has been a problem but things seem to have settled down now. We'll see how Chaves, Valverde, Contador and Froome are really going.


CN: And Chaves has been right up there. You must be pleased with how he's settled in at the race?

WH: He's handled things well and although there's not been to many times when the GC guys have had to test each other there are a lot more tough stages to come. The race has really only just started.


CN: How would you compare Chaves form from the Giro to where he is now at the Vuelta?


MW: Riding two Grand Tours in a year, with the programme that he's had is good. I think it's a benefit that he's done his first Grand Tour in May and not in July and that's given him more time to recover than guys who did the Tour. Saying that the Giro and the Vuelta are different bike races in the routes and their temperatures. If you look at the top five guys going for the Vuelta now they're all pretty hardened GT riders and I think you can put Chaves in that bracket now too.


CN: Simon won a stage on Thursday but what are his expectations for the rest of the race?

MW: That was a really nice win for himself. The goal from the start is that Chaves is our tried and tested GC guy, and then to have two guys in the hunt later in the harder stages, is a bonus for us. That's the first time we've ever really had that option within the team.


Back in the race and the gap continues to fall. It's at 2'12 now with several riders dropping off the back and suffering at the rear of the peloton. The terrain may not suggest it but this is a brutally tough stage and it's been full on for most of the day.Igor Anton, once a rider who could target this race, is at the back of the bunch and hanging on.


78km remaining from 158km

Relentlessly steady increase in pace from the peloton and it's starting to crack the riders in the break as we see some shoulders starting to slump. The gap holds at 2'13.


The escapees are over the category 3 Alto de Fumaces. There is just one categorised climb left before the finish, the category 3 Alto de Padornelo. The summit comes 18.5km before the finish, though in truth, the climb itself - 7km at 3.2% - shouldn't trouble the sprinters' teams in the finale in any case.

73km remaining from 158km

Luis Angel Mate, incidentally, again led over the top of the climb. The escapees have two minutes in hand on the peloton.


There hasn't been any particular injection of pace in the peloton, but the break's lead has dropped in the past few kilometres, and now stands at just 1:35.


Trek-Segafredo's Niccolo Bonifazio has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana.


65km remaining from 158km

Martin Velits is among the riders exchanging turns at the head of the peloton, with the interests of Etixx-QuickStep teammate Gianni Meersman in mind. Meersman is chasing a hat-trick of Vuelta stage wins this afternoon.


Trek-Segafredo, Etixx-QuickStep and Giant-Alpecin have each committed riders to the chase effort, and their working alliance means that the break's lead is pegged at 1:35.


59km remaining from 158km

Atapuma's BMC guard is tucked in just behind the sprinters' teams at the head of the peloton. It's been a calm afternoon for the red jersey to date.


57km remaining from 158km

Joint team leader at the Tour de France, Tejay van Garderen is, temporarily, in the role of water carrier at this Vuelta a Espana. He makes his way back up from the team car with a clutch of bidons stuffed down his jersey.


55km remaining from 158km

The five leaders are sticking gamely to their task in front, but with their lead now at just 1:28, they seem unlikely to go the distance.


53km remaining from 158km

Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM) leads the break through the intermediate sprint in A Gudiña. In the main peloton, meanwhile, it seems the sprinters' teams have knocked off the pace for fear of catching the escapees too soon.


The stricken Igor Anton (Dimension Data) is still struggling at the rear of the peloton, while Astana have taken up the reins at the head of the peloton.


50km remaining from 158km

Gatis Smukulis is on the front for Astana, the the Kazakh team's pace-setting has reduced the break's lead to just 40 seconds. Luis Leon Sanchez will be their hope for stage honours this afternoon - but only if they can shake some of the pure fastmen off the back before the finish.


Astana mean business here. The gap has been slashed to 25 seconds. The escapees won't last much longer at this rate.


44km remaining from 158km

Astana's surge has strung the peloton out on this rolling terrain, and quite a few riders are struggling to stay in touch at the rear of the peloton. The gap to the break drops to just ten seconds.


43km remaining from 158km

The break is swept up by the main peloton, even if Campenaerts and Mate try to prolong their adventure was a defiant acceleration.


Samuel Sanchez (BMC) has been caught out by this spell of pace-making by Astana. The 2008 Olympic champion has some teammates with him and he is chasing back on.


41km remaining from 158km

Sanchez is almost within touching distance of the rear of the peloton, though there has been no let up from Astana at the front.


40km remaining from 158km

Samuel Sanchez has rejoined the peloton. It seems the Spaniard was caught out by his positioning rather than his legs. 


Astana continue their determined forcing on the front of the peloton ahead of the category 3 Alto de Padornelo, which begins with a shade over 25 kilometres to go.


Rein Taaramae (Katusha) is the latest rider to abandon the Vuelta a Espana. 


36km remaining from 158km

Delegations from Tinkoff and Movistar are placed near the head of the peloton, where Astana continue to pile on the pressure on the heavy roads that lead to the day's final categorised climb.


32km remaining from 158km

The peloton is strung out into one long line under the impetus of Astana's forcing. If they maintain this on the climb, the fast men will be hard-pressed to stay in contact.


30 km to go and the peloton is complete. Astana is leading the pack! #LV2016

@LottoJumbo_road Fri, 26th Aug 2016 15:14:20

The pace from Astana is relentless but Tinkoff are tucked in just behind them with Alberto Contador looking strong. And now Astana have attacked and sent a rider up the road with Cataldo, a former stage winner in the Vuelta, going clear.


The rest of the Astana team have pulled up, leaving Cataldo to stretch his lead with 29km to go. So many riders have been dropped from the rear of the field - Stybar, Terpstra just to name a few.


Four riders are in a counter move and Clarke, and Luis Leon Sanchez are in there as they catch and pass Cataldo. 


Luis Leon had Simon Clarke, Brambilla, Cataldo and one other riders with them. Two other riders in fact with an IAM rider making the juncture.


We have two groups of fine on the road. The leading five are Brambilla, Clarke, Mate, Luis Leon Sanchez, and Cataldo. 


The second group contain Rojas.


The first group have 20 seconds on the chase with 26km to go.


The Rojas group has now been caught as AG2R take up the chase. Sky are also moving to the front as we head into the final 25km of the stage. 


Brambilla is 1'22 off the race lead and he has 31 seconds over the peloton. BMC, if they have any support left, will need to help with the chase if the lead continues to grow. 


And now a rider from Katusha fires up the road. It's Lagutin who has gone clear. 


Three riders have gone after Lagutin as we continue to climb the final ascent of the stage. 


The five leaders now have 36 seconds on the chasers with no time gap yet on the new six man chase group. 


There are attacks coming thick and fast from the bunch but it's just playing into the hands of the break.


Now the peloton line up with BMC and Sky sharing the pace setting duties as we continue to climb. The leaders have 38 seconds with 21km to go.


Quintana has moved up towards the front of the bunch, Froome is close too but the five leaders have 43 seconds with 20km to go. 


Mate, Sanchez, Brambillia, Clarke and Cataldo crest the top of the final climb with a 34 second lead over the peloton. Now it's a long descent before a 7km flat run-in to the line. 


Astana have now accelerated on the front. They know that they probably can't wait for the sprint if they want to win the stage. Trek Segafredo have moved up to the front of the peloton as well, adding further firepower to the chase.


15km remaining from 158km

15km to go and the gap is at 27 seconds.


Astana try and control the break once more as the gap comes down to 23 seconds. 


Tailwind out there at the moment and that's going to help the break but they only have 12 seconds with 11km to go.


Astana give it one more push at the front of the break but with 10km to go the catch is about to be made. 


Clarke isn't going to sit up and he's marked by one of the Astana men while the rest of the break sit up. It's Sanchez. 11 second gap with 7.8km to go.


6km remaining from 158km

The leading pair are still hanging onto their 11 second lead with 6km to go. In the bunch the sprinters are starting to get organised with their trains - Trek, Etixx and Lotto all moving up.


17 seconds is the gap now. It's starting to get interesting again as Etixx try and pull it all back together. 4.5km to go.


Now it's up to 19 seconds. 


Sanchez is doing most of the work, Clarke coming through to take a few short turns. 17 seconds with 3.5km to go.


Now Bora Argon are setting the pace and the gap is down to 14 seconds with 2.3km to go. This is going to be close. The bunch should have it though.


Now Lotto and Tinkoff are chasing. Hansen setting the pace and the gap is 11 seconds. So, so close. 


10 seconds with 1.3km to go.


Now Tinkoff are leading out with 6km to go.


5 seconds with 600 m to go!


Now the road kicks up and there's a crash.


Sanchez leads out.


They're caught.


It's Jonas Van Genechten who takes it.


The IAM rider was in the lead group that caught Sanchez and Clarke just before the line. Jonas Van Genechten timed it right and hit the front to take the biggest win of his career. He came around the final bend at the front and there was no chance of anyone coming around him after that. Valverde and Gilbert were both in the hunt they couldn't take the win.


Contador has just crossed the line. He went down in the crash and has a cut right shoulder. 


Benatti and Valverde round out the top three on the stage.


No time gap for Contador of course as the incident happened in the final 3km but that's another blow for the Spaniard in the race. He's lost time, and now he's shed skin. Tomorrow's mountain stage is going to be crucial. 


Today's top ten:


1 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling 3:55:44
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5 Kevin Reza (Fra) FDJ
6 Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep
8 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
9 Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis
10 Tosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal


And thats why GC riders and their teams shouldn't be mixing it in Sprint. Not worth the risk of gainig a handful of seconds

A hugely significant win for Van Genechten. He came into the finale on Valverde's wheel and then timed his sprint to perfection. That's three Grand Tour wins for IAM this season. 


Contador has spoken at the finish and said that the race will now be complicated. We're also hear that Froome was now involved in the crash. No confirmation of that yet but we'll look for a reaction from the team.


Here's our latest information on Contador after his crash.


General classification after stage 7:

1 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing Team 25:41:21
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:08
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:42
4 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:48
5 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 00:00:48
6 Leopold König (Cze) Team Sky 00:01:09
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange 00:01:32
8 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:01:38
9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:38
10 David de la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step


So Valverde picks up a few more seconds on Atapuma and is now just 8 seconds off the race lead. Froome is third at 42 seconds, with Quintana at 48 seconds. 


.@albertocontador crashes near stage 7 Vuelta a España finish #LV2016

@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 26th Aug 2016 16:16:30

Lets hear from today's stage winner Van Genechten.


“At the Vuelta the chances of a victory are really small. You have to fight every stage and I tried on stage 1 and 2. This was one of my goals and tried to just stay with the bunch today. This is the biggest win, for sure.”


That's about it from us today. You can find our complete report, results, photos, and video highlights (they'll be there shortly) right here. Thanks for joining us. We'll be back Saturday with more action from the Vuelta a Espana.


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