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Vuelta a Espana 2017: Stage 7

The Vuelta's longest stage has just three categorised climbs but some 2,700 metres of total climbing. In normal circumstances, those would almost certainly be a day for a break to stay clear, but with so few sprint opportunities on this Vuelta, the fast men will be reluctant to pass up on the prospect here. With Alberto Contador eager to make up his deficit any which we he can, the GC men will have to be vigilant, too, on the long road to Cuenca.

The peloton rolls out of Llíria at 12.15 local time with the race proper due to begin at 12.30. 

 

The general classification picture is as follows after 6 days of racing:

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 22:54:38
2 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:00:11
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:00:13
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:30
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:36
6 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:40
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:49
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:50
9 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:13
10 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:01:26
11 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:28
12 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:01:40
13 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb 0:01:43
14 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:57
15 Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:02:19
16 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:02:23
17 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension Data 0:02:26
18 Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:02:52
19 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:02:55
20 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:02:59

 

The peloton is navigating the neutralised zone in Llira beneath blues skies and in a temperature of 27 degrees.

 

After losing ground on the first mountain stage in Andorra, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) has shown signs of recovery over the past two days. His onslaught yesterday briefly fragmented the group of favourites, but he ended the day chatting with Froome as they rode side by side into the finish. In the overall standings, Contador remains 3:10 behind Froome in 23rd overall. 

 

Contador went on the offensive on the Puerto del Garbi yesterday, but was peeved that he received relatively little by way of help from the GC men who tracked his move. "It was an opportunity to do a lot of damage in the GC and get rid of some important people," Contador lamented at the finish. "I thought there'd be more collaboration from the other teams, squads who had two or three riders there in that front group who could have dropped some of their rivals. Maybe, later on, they're going to regret having lost this opportunity." Alasdair Fotheringham has the story in full here.

 

There is a non-starter to report this morning. Carlos Betancur has been forced to abandon the Vuelta overnight due to the injuries his sustained in his crash on the descent of the Garbi. The Colombian made it to the finish yesterday despite fracturing his right ankle and picking up facial injuries in the incident. 

 

207km remaining from 207km

The 188 remaining riders in the Vuelta have reached kilometre zero and been flagged away for the official start of stage 7.

 

In fact, though the race had passed the kilometre zero, the flag was not waved just there. There was a crash in the neutralised zone, and so the race remained neutralised a little longer to allow the fallers - which included Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) - to latch back on to the peloton.

 

All 188 riders are accounted for, and stage 7 of the Vuelta is now formally - and finally - underway. 

 

197km remaining from 207km

Plenty of riders can sense that today's early break might just go all the way to the finish, and there is a flurry of early attacks. A group of 5 riders has a small lead over the peloton, but more riders are trying to bridge across.

 

193km remaining from 207km

The front group has expanded in number to 14 riders, but the peloton is just behind them, and it may very well all come back together. The speed is blisteringly high in these opening kilometres, with the race still to take shape.

 

190km remaining from 207km

It's interesting to note that Wilco Kelderman - 11th at 1:28 - is in this group of 14 riders. Ordinarily, you would think his presence would doom the attack to failure, but the escapees have established a lead of a minute over the peloton.

 

Kelderman, it seems, was part of an earlier breakaway attempt, but is not in this group of 14 riders which has established a substantial lead over the peloton.

 

185km remaining from 207km

The escapees have a lead of 2:20 over the main peloton. The riders in the leading group are: Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Richard Carapaz, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Floris De Tier (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ), Luis Angel Mate, Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Rafael Reis (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Aldemar Reyes and Jetse Bol (Manzana-Postobon)

 

Like on Monday, Przemyslaw Niemiec (UAE-Team Emirates) is alone in the no man's land between the break and the peloton. On that occasion, the Pole was high in the Pyrenees and he was able to climb steadily up to the leaders. On the heavy, exposed roads around Losa del Obispo, his task is rather more ambitious, especially as he is 1:30 behind the leaders.

 

180km remaining from 207km

Niemic, sagely, has opted to sit up and wait for the peloton, which is now 3:15 down on the break. The pattern for the day has been established. 

 

The escapees are 16 kilometres from the base of the day's first classified climb, the category 3 Puerto La Montalbana (8km at 4.3%). Two more category 3 climbs follow - the Alto de Sta. Cruz de Moya (8.7km at 4%) and the stiff Alto del Castillo (2km at 7.2%). The summit of the Castillo is just under 12 kilometres from the finish, and seems a most likely springboard for late attacks.

 

As the break continues to chug its way clear, word reaches us that Jonas Van Genechten (Cofidis) has abandoned the Vuelta. A year ago, almost to the day, the Belgian won stage 7 of the Vuelta in Puebla de Sanabria.

 

175km remaining from 207km

Team Sky assume their familiar position at the head of the peloton, which is now 3:50 down on the 14 escapees.

 

Neo-professional Enric Mas underscored his potential by placing third on yesterday's stage. The Majorca native already had a contract for next season, but this morning Quick-Step Floors announced that his deal has been extended through to the end of the 2019 campaign.

 

167km remaining from 207km

Jetse Bol (Manzana Postobon) is the highest-placed rider on GC in this break. The Dutchman is 8:55 down on Froome, hence Sky's willingness to grant the escapees a considerable degree of latitude. The gap nudges upwards to 5:08 as rain begins to fall over the Vuelta for the first time on this year's race.

 

160km remaining from 207km

The 14 leaders are midway up the climb of La Montalbana, still with an advantage of 5:50 over the peloton.

 

The break's lead extends to six minutes as they approach the summit of the day's opening categorised climb.

 

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is tucked safely into the main peloton. Considering he crashed twice yesterday - once on the descent of the Puerto del Garbi and again in the finale as he attempted to chase back on - the American will have been relieved to have lost just 20 seconds on the road to Sagunto. Van Garderen is now 4th overall, 30 seconds behind Froome, and he struck an optimistic note after the stage. "I mean, when you really think about it, over three weeks, nothing goes perfectly. It's more about how you deal with the not-perfect days and take advantage of the good days," van Garderen said. "I've shown I'm in good form. The injuries are pretty minor, the legs are good, morale's good. So we'll move forward and try to take advantage of any opportunity we get." Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.

 

It will be fascinating to see how van Garderen fares on this Vuelta. He seemed to be at a crossroads during the Giro d'Italia, where he set out with ambitions of a podium spot, only to find himself in an Autogrill with directeur sportif Max Sciandri, downing a beer and wondering just where he could go after losing all GC hopes in a disastrous Montefalco time trial. Van Garderen recovered sufficiently to claim a fine stage win in Ortisei in the final week. Afterwards, having made small talk with a fellow Denver Broncos fan, he reiterated his big ambitions in three-week races. "I still think I'm capable of doing GC in a Grand Tour in the future, I'm not going to give up trying for that," van Garderen said.

 

It will be fascinating to see how van Garderen fares on this Vuelta. He seemed to be at a crossroads during the Giro d'Italia, where he set out with ambitions of a podium spot, only to find himself in an Autogrill with directeur sportif Max Sciandri, downing a beer and wondering just where he could go after losing all GC hopes in a disastrous Montefalco time trial. Van Garderen recovered sufficiently to claim a fine stage win in Ortisei in the final week. Afterwards, having made small talk with a fellow Denver Broncos fan, he reiterated his big ambitions in three-week races. "I still think I'm capable of doing GC in a Grand Tour in the future, I'm not going to give up trying for that," van Garderen said.

 

It will be fascinating to see how van Garderen fares on this Vuelta. He seemed to be at a crossroads during the Giro d'Italia, where he set out with ambitions of a podium spot, only to find himself in an Autogrill with directeur sportif Max Sciandri, downing a beer and wondering just where he could go after losing all GC hopes in a disastrous Montefalco time trial. Van Garderen recovered sufficiently to claim a fine stage win in Ortisei in the final week. Afterwards, having made small talk with a fellow Denver Broncos fan, he reiterated his big ambitions in three-week races. "I still think I'm capable of doing GC in a Grand Tour in the future, I'm not going to give up trying for that," van Garderen said.

 

148km remaining from 207km

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) led the break over La Montalbana, with Rojas and Mohoric picking up the other points on offer atop the climb. 

Despite leading Contador by more than 3 minutes, Chris Froome has insisted that the Spaniard is not yet out of the hunt for final overall victory in the wake of his onslaught on yesterday's stage. While Vincenzo Nibali, Romain Bardet et al struggled to follow, however, Froome did not seem especially troubled by the acclerations. "We're still two weeks away from Madrid, so anything can still happen," Froome said. "It was such a tough stage, I thought a GC rider would attack and Alberto was very impressive today. He did go very deep and very hard, and that forced the rest of us to go hard as well." Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here

 

 

139km remaining from 207km

A reminder of the riders in the leading group, which has an advantage of 6:35 over the peloton: Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Richard Carapaz, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Floris De Tier (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ), Luis Angel Mate, Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Rafael Reis (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Aldemar Reyes and Jetse Bol (Manzana-Postobon).

 

132km remaining from 207km

The break's advantage continues to grow and it now stands at 7:15 over a peloton where there seems to be precious little appetite to marshal a chase. 

 

125km remaining from 207km

De Gendt, De Marchi and the escapees have reached the day's second categorised climb, the Alto de Santa Cruz de Moya (8.7km at 4%). Their lead over the bunch has dropped slightly to 6:25.

 

118km remaining from 207km

After two hours of racing on rolling and occasionally rugged terrain, the average speed is 39.1kph. 6:34 is the gap between the break and the bunch.

 

De Gendt, incidentally, was first to the top of the Alto de Santa Cruz de Moya, ahead of Mate and De Marchi.

 

110km remaining from 207km

An increase in urgency as the peloton splits into two groups. There has been a cross-tailwind for most of the afternoon and the bunch has broken up following a change in direction. Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) is among those in the second group, but it's a long way to the finish.

 

103km remaining from 207km

The bunch fuses back together once again after it passes through the feed zone. Sky remain on the front, and the peloton is 6:15 down on the break.

 

The rain from earlier in the stage has abated for the time being, as the peloton trundles along beneath blue skies and in temperatures approaching 35 degrees. It's a little cooler and more overcast at the finish in Cuenca.

 

98km remaining from 207km

After that earlier frisson, the urgency has waned once again. The peloton's deficit to the break has stretched out to 6:40.

 

The Vuelta's last visit to Cuenca came in 2006, when David Millar, riding in the colours of Saunier Duval, beat Fabian Cancellara in a time trial to claim his first victory since returning from a two-year doping ban. "I love my sport and I want everyone to know that you can win the biggest races on bread and water,” Millar said. Alexandre Vinokourov finished third in that stage en route to final overall victory, a year before he tested positive for blood doping at the Tour de France.

 

The previous day's stage had also finished in Cuenca, and the winner was one Samuel Sanchez. Eleven years on, Sanchez tested positive for the growth hormone releasing peptide GHRP-2 in an on out-of-competition test just before this Vuelta started. Sanchez, who has been riding for BMC since 2014, was pulled from the Vuelta and is provisionally suspended. 

 

90km remaining from 207km

A crash in the main peloton sees a number of riders including Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) and Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) hit the ground. The Eritrean is being treated on the roadside, but it remains to be seen whether his injuries will prevent him from continuing in the race. Kudus has been targeting the Vuelta all year, and he placed a fine second on Wednesday's leg to Alcossebre.

 

87km remaining from 207km

Ian Stannard and Christian Knees set the pace at the head of the peloton, which is 7:45 down on the 14 escapees.

 

Kudus has been forced to abandon the Vuelta due to his crash. US champion Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) is also out of the Vuelta after going down in the same incident.

 

80km remaining from 207km

Into the final 50 miles for the 14 escapees, who are continuing to find common cause in Boniches, 7:50 clear of the peloton. From here to the finish, they are on something of a plateau that dips and rises at 1,000 metres above sea level.

 

Nicolas Roche (BMC) has a consistent record at the Vuelta, and the Irishman lies third overall, just 13 seconds behind Froome. Like his teammate van Garderen, he is hoping to reiterate his credentials as a GC rider in Spain. Roche placed 6th overall at the 2013 Vuelta, but has set out in the service of a leader in every Grand Tour he has raced since the 2014 Giro. "“I realise in cycling people have a short memory – about three months long at most. But that’s normal, and I know what I am capable of doing in the Vuelta. If you look back to 2008, I’ve been competitive in this race every single year," Roche said. Read the full story here.

 

Nicolas Roche (BMC) has a consistent record at the Vuelta, and the Irishman lies third overall, just 13 seconds behind Froome. Like his teammate van Garderen, he is hoping to reiterate his credentials as a GC rider in Spain. Roche placed 6th overall at the 2013 Vuelta, but has set out in the service of a leader in every Grand Tour he has raced since the 2014 Giro. "“I realise in cycling people have a short memory – about three months long at most. But that’s normal, and I know what I am capable of doing in the Vuelta. If you look back to 2008, I’ve been competitive in this race every single year," Roche said. Read the full story here.

 

70km remaining from 207km

The break's lead edges towards eight minutes, and it seems evident that the stage winner will come from the 14 riders out in front this afternoon.

 

That doesn't mean, mind, that there will not be frissons among the GC contenders on the Alto del Castillo climb in the finale, as Roche pointed out. "Just the name, Alto del Castillo: you can imagine, there’s going to be a castle on top, with narrow, switchbacks, just with experience and a bit of imagination you can see what’s going to be coming. I saw on YouTube, back in 2006 when they last did it, they split on the descent, so that’s a point where you’ll have to be very careful," Roche said. “It’s good to be there up after a week, but I also know that every Grand Tour is full of traps and you have to be always, always focused for the whole three weeks. Anything can happen, from hunger flats to crashes, and you have to take it day by day.”

 

68km remaining from 207km

Roche dedicated an entry in his Irish Independent Vuelta diary to his teammate Samuel Sanchez's positive test ahead of the race, where he stated that he was "disgusted" by the news and pointed out that it was indeed news to him. "You can't tell just by talking to somebody whether they dope or not. It's not like the guys who dope talk about it," Roche wrote. "They don't rock up to the breakfast table and say, 'Hey guys, I did growth hormones.'" 

 

63km remaining from 207km

Stannard continues to set a steady pace on the front of the bunch for Team Sky. Jetse Bol, incidentally, is edging closer to the virtual overall lead for the second time in this Vuelta as the gap to the break hovers at around the 8-minute mark.

 

58km remaining from 207km

There's still no sign of any cracks in the unity of the escapees as they drop gently towards Reillo with a lead of 7:37 over the peloton. The sun is now hidden beneath menacing grey clouds.

 

53km remaining from 207km

There's a sudden increase in urgency in the main peloton. The race is heading towards a section of exposed road and plenty of riders are trying to move up, but the peloton remains intact for the time being.

 

52km remaining from 207km

That surge in the bunch has also trimmed the break's lead back down to 7 minutes.

 

50km remaining from 207km

A reminder of the situation as we enter the final 50 kilometres. 6:58 the advantage for 14 riders: Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Richard Carapaz, Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Floris De Tier (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ), Luis Angel Mate, Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Rafael Reis (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Aldemar Reyes and Jetse Bol (Manzana-Postobon).

 

The top end of the general classification, meanwhile, looks as follows:

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 22:54:38
2 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:00:11
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:00:13
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:30
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:36
6 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:40
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:49
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:50
9 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:13
10 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:01:26

 

44km remaining from 207km

The wind is still giving cause for anxiety in the main peloton, which is beginning to stretch out, but remains just about intact.

 

43km remaining from 207km

And at that, the elastic snaps, and a sizeable group of riders is dropped from the main peloton. It would be a surprise if any GC contenders were caught out here.

 

Froome, Aru, Nibali, Bardet and Zakarin are all safely in the front group. The pace has relented slightly and the second echelon has a fighting chance of latching back on.

 

40km remaining from 207km

De Marchi picks up the pace on the front of the break as they begin to climb once again on a long and very false flat. One imagines that the unity of the break will survive intact until the climb of the Alto del Castillo, still a little over 25 kilometres away.

 

36km remaining from 207km

The Vuelta reaches the town of Fuentes. Insert Operacion Puerto pun here.

 

Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain-Merida move up towards the head of the bunch on the drag towards Fuentes.

 

There will, of course, be a rather more fraught battle for places at the head of the bunch on the approach to the short climb of Alto del Castillo. The cobbled road on the ascent grows narrower towards the summit, and positioning will be crucial.

 

32km remaining from 207km

Twenty miles remaining for Bol, De Marchi, Mohoric et al, who have a lead of 7:10 on the peloton. Their thoughts are slowly beginning to turn towards figuring out ways to outmanoeuvre one another in the finale.

 

When the Vuelta visited Cuenca in 2001, incidentally, there were also 14 riders in the day-long break, including a young Luca Paolini and Haimar Zubeldia. Santiago Blanco attacked on the Alto del Castillo but crashed on the descent. Filippo Simeoni escaped alone to claim a victory that will be best remembered for the victory salute. The man who would later stand up to Lance Armstrong dismounted and walked across the line, brandishing his bike above his head.

 

27km remaining from 207km

The pace has slackened once more in the main peloton, which is now 7:50 down on the 14 escapees.

 

25km remaining from 207km

The detente in the peloton looks set to last at least as far as Alto del Castillo. Meanwhile, there seems to be no inclination yet from any of the escapees to break the terms of their longstanding alliance on the front.

 

Today's finale takes place in Luis Ocaña country. He was born in Priego de Cuenca, 50 kilometres north of the finish, and he lived in the area as a child until his family moved north of the Pyrenees to France. The best account of Ocaña's turbulent life is to be found in Alasdair Fotheringham's excellent Reckless: The Life and Times of Luis Ocaña.

 

22km remaining from 207km

Thomas De Gendt tests the waters in the front group with an acceleration. The Belgian is quickly brought to heel, but his tentative attack signals the beginning of the end game.

 

20km remaining from 207km

De Gendt's acceleration has raised the tempo in the front group, which now has 8:55 over the peloton. Bol is on the verge of becoming the virtual overall leader.

 

19km remaining from 207km

Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) puts in a surge and brings five riders with him. The front group is going to fragment and reform several times before Alto del Castillo.

 

18km remaining from 207km

De Marchi, Mohoric, Gougeard et al are brought back to heel by their breakaway companions. Their cohesion has been ruptured but with 9:17 in hand, they can afford to play cat and mouse.

 

16km remaining from 207km

Mohoric attacks alone ahead of the intermediate sprint. Gougeard follows him, and the pair has opened a small gap over the rest of the break.

 

15km remaining from 207km

Mohoric and Gougeard aren't exactly collaborating smoothly, but the 12 riders just behind them are even more dissonant, so their lead has stretched out to 9 seconds.

 

Richard Carapaz (Movistar) sits on the front of the chasing group in support of his teammate Rojas. Mohoric and Gougeared have 12 seconds in hand as they approach the climb of Alto del Castillo.

 

14km remaining from 207km

Mohoric and Gougeard begin the short haul up Alto del Castillo with a small lead over the rest of the break.

 

Gougeard drops back immediately, and Mohoric is alone at the front of the race with a small advantage.

 

13km remaining from 207km

Poljanksi, Mate and De Marchi lead the chase of Mohoric as the gradient stiffens.

 

Mohoric leads beneath the arch midway up the climb but he is joined by Rojas and De Marchi as he rattles across the cobbles that follow.

 

Rafael Reis, meanwhile, has fallen on the climb after riding into a television motorbike, but he quickly remounts.

 

13km remaining from 207km

It's every man for himself on this cobbled ascent. Mohoric remains in front with Rojas on his wheel, while De Marchi has dropped back to the chasers, accompanied by Bol and De Gendt.

 

12km remaining from 207km

Mohoric has been impressive on this climb, and he continues to lead with Rojas glued to his wheel. They maintain their small lead over the chasers, which include De Marchi, De Gendt and Bol.

 

11km remaining from 207km

Mohoric leads over the top of the climb, with Rojas on his wheel. They are joined by De Gendt and Poljanski as they begin to swoop down the descent, and more riders are following.

 

11km remaining from 207km

De Gendt leads Poljanski, Mohoric and Rojas on the descent off Alto del Castillo. Bol, De Tier and De Marchi chase at 15 seconds. The bunch trails by 8:35.

 

10km remaining from 207km

Mohoric tries alone once again on the descent off the Castillo, but he has just a narrow advantage over Rojas, De Gendt and Poljanski.

 

9km remaining from 207km

World junior champion in 2012 and under-23 champion in 2013, Mohoric is descending well here, and he is stretching out his advantage over Rojas, Poljanski and De Gendt.

 

8km remaining from 207km

Mohoric is sweeping gracefully through the bends on this descent. The Slovenian is still widening his advantage.

 

7km remaining from 207km

Bol, De Tier and De Marchi are closing in on Rojas, Poljanski and De Gendt. There could soon be a sextet chasing Mohoric at a distance of 15 seconds.

 

The peloton hits the climb of Alto del Castillo, meanwhile, with Sky and Froome well positioned near the front.

 

6km remaining from 207km

Mohoric's aerodynamic crouch is helping him to pad out his advantage. He now has 20 seconds on De Gendt, Poljanski and Rojas, and a little more on De Tier, Bol and De Marchi.

 

No major frissons in the peloton on the climb, though many riders were jettisoned off the back. Sky lead over the summit and it seems all of the GC contenders will reach the finish with Froome.

 

4km remaining from 207km

Mohoric is still fending off the De Gendt group, which has by no means given up the ghost.

 

3km remaining from 207km

Mohoric should hold this lead until the road flattens out in the final kilometre. But does he have the legs to hold off the chasers from there?

 

3km remaining from 207km

Poljanski, De Gendt and Rojas are swapping turns in the chasing trio but although they can see Mohoric in the straights, they are drawing no closer to him.

 

2km remaining from 207km

Finally, De Gendt et al make some inroads into their deficit. 12 seconds the gap to Mohoric.

 

2km remaining from 207km

Still 12 seconds for Mohoric, who is beginning to sense stage victory in Cuenca...

 

1km remaining from 207km

Mohoric has 13 seconds as the road begins to flatten out. If he can keep his gear turning over, stage victory is his.

 

1km remaining from 207km

Mohoric has 16 seconds as he enters the final kilometre and the chasers begin to ponder the race for second place...

 

Matej Mohoric drapes his arms over the handlebars as he time trials towards the finish line.

 

Matej Mohoric (UAE-Team Emirates) wins stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana.

 

Pawel Poljanski takes second for the second successive day. Rojas finished third, while De Gendt had to settle for fourth.

 

The remnants of the break spill across the line in twos and threes. Bol came home 30 seconds down. The Dutchman will shoot up the overall standings, though the peloton will reach the finish inside 8 minutes, and Froome will retain the red jersey.

 

Mohoric has been on the world stage for most of the decade, but he is still only 22 years of age. This is, by some distance, his biggest win as a professional and his most important triumph since he won the under-23 Worlds in Florence in 2013.

 

Result:

 

1 Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
2 Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
5 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team
6 Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
7 Aldemar Reyes (Col) Manzana Postobon

 

Result:

 

1 Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 4:43:35
2 Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:16
3 Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
5 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:27
6 Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
7 Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana Postobon 0:00:29
8 Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:32
9 Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
10 Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ 

Team Sky leads the reduced peloton as it trundles through the final kilometre, with all of the GC contenders still present.

 

Froome and the GC contenders come in 8:40 or so down on Mohoric. The Briton retains the overall lead ahead of tomorrow's leg to Xorret de Cati.

 

Mohoric pointed to the UAE branding on his jersey as he crossed the line, but he will swap their colours for those of Bahrain-Merida in 2018. He will link up once again with Brent Copeland, the man who signed him from Cannondale for what was then Lampre at the end of 2015.

 

General classification after stage 7:

       

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 27:46:51
2 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-Scott 0:00:11
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:00:13
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:30
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:36
6 David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:40
7 Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana Postobon 0:00:46
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:49
9 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:50
10 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:13

 

Matej Mohoric speaks before mounting the podium: “It’s incredible, it’s a long time since my last big win and it feels great to get a victory again. I was in the break when Lutsenko won. I felt very good then, and even though the stage was not good for my characteristics, I got fourth. Today the team wanted me in the break, I tried to save as much energy as possible and I gave it all in the final. The final quite suited me, as I’m a pretty good descender. I needed to go away over the downhill. I’m happy for UAE who gave me the chance to compete in the Vuelta.”

 

 

Chris Froome speaks after accepting another red jersey. "I think a special mention to Ian Stannard and Christian Knees because they did pretty much the whole stage on the front today and then the rest of the guys were fantastic in the final. Tomorrow is a really tough final. There are ramps of over 18 percent in the last 5 kilometres of the climb before we descend to the finish. It will be a big GC battle tomorrow."

 

Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) and Jonas Van Genechten (Cofidis) were all forced to abandon the Vuelta as a result of crashes on the stage. 

 

Result:

 

 

1 Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 4:43:35
2 Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:16
3 Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
5 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:27
6 Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
7 Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana Postobon 0:00:29
8 Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:32
9 Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
10 Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ

 

General classification after stage 7:

 

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 27:46:51
2 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-Scott 0:00:11
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 0:00:13
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:30
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:36
6 David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:40
7 Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana Postobon 0:00:46
8 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:49
9 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:50
10 Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:13

 

Thanks for joining our live coverage of stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana on Cyclingnews. A full report, results and pictures are available here. We'll be back with more live updates from tomorrow's tough stage to Xorret de Cati.

 

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