Vuelta a Espana: Mohoric wins in Cuenca

Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates) won stage 7 of the Vuelta a España from the breakaway, thinning out the 14-rider group on the late climb of the Alto del Castillo and dropping the remaining members on the descent, before holding his slim lead on the 10km run-in to Cuenca.

Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished second, and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) third, 16 seconds back, in a trio that also contained Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) – the only riders who could stay with Mohoric on the punchy cobbled climb.

Thirteen seconds behind them, Jetse Bol (Manzana Postobon) crossed the line in a second chasing trio, and by doing so leapt up into the top 10 overall. The Dutchman had started the day 8:55 down but the Team Sky-led peloton was happy to let the break carve out a substantial advantage, crossing the line 8:38 behind the stage winner.

That meant Bol jumped above Fabio Aru into seventh place, 46 seconds down on race leader Chris Froome, who finished safely alongside his main rivals on a day when Sky controlled proceedings in the peloton from start to finish.

The journey from Lliria to Cuenca looked fairly innocuous at a glance, but the gradual hike to 1000m and the constantly undulating terrain amounted to an altitude gain of 2700 metres on what was the longest stage of the 2017 Vuelta, at 207km.

Despite a couple of tense moments when the peloton split briefly on exposed roads, it was a relaxed day for the general classification contenders as, in the absence of any real appetite for a chase in the peloton, it soon became clear that the breakaway would go all the way.

With a lead of well over eight minutes, the 14 riders started exchanging blows on the approach to the Alto del Castillo, but the climb itself – a sharp two-kilometre ascent on narrow cobbled streets – was always going to be decisive. Mohoric led onto it, and he never ceded pole position as many others were quickly ridden out of contention. Only three could stay with the former junior and U23 world champion over the over the top, though he still had a weapon up his sleeve.

"I tried to save as much energy and to give my all in the finale. I knew it was well suited to me because I'm pretty good on the descents, so I knew if I came over the top with a few guys, I could go away on the downhill," said Mohoric.

The 22-year-old did just that, carving out an impressive advantage as he swept through the corners, and equally impressive was the way he held of the advancing trio as the road flattened out.

"It's incredible. It's been a long time since last big win," he added, his only other pro victory coming at last year's Tour of Hainan "I've always worked hard, and given my best, but it feels great to get a victory again."

How it unfolded

With the rolling terrain and the late climb, coupled with the lack of top-tier sprinters and sprint-oriented teams here, there was a sense that a breakaway could make it all the way, and there was no shortage of interest in making it in there. The speed was blisteringly fast in the opening kilometres amid a flurry of attacks, with a move containing GC rider Wilco Kelderman needing to be neutralized, but a group of 14 formed after around 15km.

In there were: 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).

De Gendt, in his second day in the break at this Vuelta, took maximum points atop both the Puerto La Montalbana (km51) and the Alto de Santa Cruz de Moya (km88) – the first two of the three third-category climbs on the 207km route.

In between, the break's lead had yawned out to seven minutes – a clear sign that there was little appetite in the peloton to chase and bring the race back together in the latter stages.

There was a brief injection of urgency in the peloton after the second climb as crosswinds blew and the peloton briefly split in two, though it soon came back together in the feed zone. There was more drama when a heavy crash occurred on in what was an innocuous phase of the race, bringing down Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), American champion Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue), and Anthony Turgis (Cofidis). Kudus and Warbasse immediately abandoned the race.

Along the rolling roads some 1000m above sea level, the break continued to stretch out its lead, which rose to eight minutes with 70km to go. The urgency, however, returned just outside the 50km-to-go marker as the peloton approach a section of exposed roads. And sure enough, the bunch soon split to pieces, with far more damage being done than earlier in the day. No GC contenders were caught out, and Sky were in no mind to put the hammer down, so the groups came back together.

With the gap still more than eight minutes, the breakaway riders could afford to start playing with each other even before the final climb, and it was De Gendt who kicked it off with 23km to go, followed by a brief dig from Gougeard.

Inside the final 20km, De Marchi attacked but only succeeded in stringing the group out, while Mohoric and Gougeard gained a little more traction together, the former taking a gap onto the first switchback while the latter was quickly dropped as the road rose. Poljanski led the chase, trying to stick to the smooth strip of road surface next to the pavement, with Rojas and De Marchi making it over and Mate leading the others up. It was looking grim for many, though, not least Reis, who crashed in a collision with a race motorbike.

Soon only Rojas could hold the wheel of Mohoric, and over the crest of the climb, four had emerged at the head of affairs – Mohoric, Rojas, De Gendt, and Poljanski. Chasing hard at 15 seconds was the trio of De Marchi, De Tier, and Bol.

An insatiable Mohoric then attacked on the descent and carved out an impressive advantage as he swooped through the corners. Under the 3km to go banner, Mohoric held a lead of 10 seconds over the three chasers, who had him in their sights, but he gamely overcame the numerical disadvantage and fell to the ground after the crossing the line, revelling in the biggest win of his career.

The peloton had thinned out on the Alto del Castillo but there was no movement among the overall contenders, who finished in a relaxed fashion, their thoughts already turning to tomorrow's tough finish at Xorret de Cati.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates4:43:35
2Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:16
3Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 2 - Cell 2
4Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 3 - Cell 2
5Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:00:27
6Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 5 - Cell 2
7Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana Postobon0:00:29
8Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:01:21
9Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:01:32
10Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJRow 9 - Cell 2
11Aldemar Reyes (Col) Manzana Postobon0:01:35
12Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:20
14Rafael Reis (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:02:40
15Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky0:08:38
16Wout Poels (Ned) Team SkyRow 15 - Cell 2
17Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team SkyRow 16 - Cell 2
18Christopher Froome (GBr) Team SkyRow 17 - Cell 2
19Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-ScottRow 18 - Cell 2
20Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-ScottRow 19 - Cell 2
21Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-ScottRow 20 - Cell 2
22Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-ScottRow 21 - Cell 2
23Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step FloorsRow 22 - Cell 2
24David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step FloorsRow 23 - Cell 2
25Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 24 - Cell 2
26Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing TeamRow 25 - Cell 2
27Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 26 - Cell 2
28Jaime Roson Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 27 - Cell 2
29Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 28 - Cell 2
30Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 29 - Cell 2
31Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) UAE Team EmiratesRow 30 - Cell 2
32Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 32 - Cell 2
34Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team EmiratesRow 33 - Cell 2
35Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro TeamRow 34 - Cell 2
36Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Dimension DataRow 35 - Cell 2
37Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team EmiratesRow 36 - Cell 2
38Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar TeamRow 37 - Cell 2
39Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-DrapacRow 38 - Cell 2
40Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 39 - Cell 2
41Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Stef Clement (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 41 - Cell 2
43Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 42 - Cell 2
44Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 43 - Cell 2
45Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 44 - Cell 2
46Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 45 - Cell 2
47Ricardo Vilela (Por) Manzana PostobonRow 46 - Cell 2
48Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 47 - Cell 2
49Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 48 - Cell 2
50Warren Barguil (Fra) Team SunwebRow 49 - Cell 2
51Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb0:08:55
52Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team SunwebRow 51 - Cell 2
53Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 52 - Cell 2
54Bernardo Suaza (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 53 - Cell 2
55Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 54 - Cell 2
56Hernán Aguirre (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 55 - Cell 2
57Magnus Cort (Den) Orica-ScottRow 56 - Cell 2
58Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha-AlpecinRow 57 - Cell 2
59Lluís Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 58 - Cell 2
60Juan Felipe Osorio (Col) Manzana Postobon0:10:59
61Darwin Atapuma (Col) UAE Team EmiratesRow 60 - Cell 2
62Hernando Bohórquez (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 61 - Cell 2
63Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 62 - Cell 2
64Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 63 - Cell 2
65Daan Olivier (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 64 - Cell 2
66Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension DataRow 65 - Cell 2
67Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 66 - Cell 2
68Fernando Orjuela (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 67 - Cell 2
69Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 68 - Cell 2
70Koen Bouwman (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 69 - Cell 2
71Clement Chevrier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:12:18
72Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) FDJRow 71 - Cell 2
73Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto SoudalRow 72 - Cell 2
74Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) FDJRow 73 - Cell 2
75Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team SkyRow 74 - Cell 2
76Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-Scott0:12:21
77Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky0:13:03
78Matvey Mamykin (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 77 - Cell 2
79Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 78 - Cell 2
80Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 79 - Cell 2
81Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 80 - Cell 2
82Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 81 - Cell 2
83Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 82 - Cell 2
84Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 83 - Cell 2
85Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 85 - Cell 2
87Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension DataRow 86 - Cell 2
88William Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac0:15:39
89Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-DrapacRow 88 - Cell 2
90Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-DrapacRow 89 - Cell 2
91Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-DrapacRow 90 - Cell 2
92Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 91 - Cell 2
93Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJRow 92 - Cell 2
94Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJRow 93 - Cell 2
95Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 94 - Cell 2
96Sebastián Molano (Col) Manzana PostobonRow 95 - Cell 2
97Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-SegafredoRow 96 - Cell 2
98Michel Kreder (Ned) Aqua Blue SportRow 97 - Cell 2
99Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 98 - Cell 2
100Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
101Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 100 - Cell 2
102Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 101 - Cell 2
103Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica-ScottRow 102 - Cell 2
104Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 103 - Cell 2
105Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step FloorsRow 104 - Cell 2
106Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-ScottRow 105 - Cell 2
107Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Orica-ScottRow 106 - Cell 2
108David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team SkyRow 107 - Cell 2
109Rubén Fernandez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 108 - Cell 2
110Fabricio Ferrari (Uru) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 109 - Cell 2
111Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 110 - Cell 2
112Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 111 - Cell 2
113Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) UAE Team EmiratesRow 112 - Cell 2
114Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La MondialeRow 113 - Cell 2
115Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 114 - Cell 2
116Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJRow 115 - Cell 2
117Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step FloorsRow 116 - Cell 2
118Federico Zurlo (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 117 - Cell 2
119Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 118 - Cell 2
120Diego Rubio (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 119 - Cell 2
121Hector Sáez Benito (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 120 - Cell 2
122David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 121 - Cell 2
123Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 122 - Cell 2
124Lennard Kämna (Ger) Team SunwebRow 123 - Cell 2
125Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step FloorsRow 124 - Cell 2
126Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Astana Pro TeamRow 125 - Cell 2
127Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 126 - Cell 2
128Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 127 - Cell 2
129Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 128 - Cell 2
130Brendan Canty (Aus) Cannondale-DrapacRow 129 - Cell 2
131Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 130 - Cell 2
132Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 131 - Cell 2
133Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro TeamRow 132 - Cell 2
134Omar Fraile Matarranza (Spa) Dimension DataRow 133 - Cell 2
135Eros Capecchi (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 134 - Cell 2
136Juan José Lobato (Spa) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 135 - Cell 2
137Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 136 - Cell 2
138Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 137 - Cell 2
139Chad Haga (USA) Team SunwebRow 138 - Cell 2
140Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 139 - Cell 2
141Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 140 - Cell 2
142Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 141 - Cell 2
143Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Caja Rural-Seguros RGARow 142 - Cell 2
144Chris Hamilton (Aus) Team SunwebRow 143 - Cell 2
145Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 144 - Cell 2
146Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team SunwebRow 145 - Cell 2
147Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team SunwebRow 146 - Cell 2
148Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-AlpecinRow 147 - Cell 2
149Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 148 - Cell 2
150Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team SunwebRow 149 - Cell 2
151Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 150 - Cell 2
152Jeremy Maison (Fra) FDJRow 151 - Cell 2
153Rein Taaramäe (Est) Katusha-AlpecinRow 152 - Cell 2
154Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-AlpecinRow 153 - Cell 2
155Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 154 - Cell 2
156Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 155 - Cell 2
157Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) FDJRow 156 - Cell 2
158Stefan Denifl (Aut) Aqua Blue SportRow 157 - Cell 2
159Peter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue SportRow 158 - Cell 2
160Jesper Hansen (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 159 - Cell 2
161Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La MondialeRow 160 - Cell 2
162Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 161 - Cell 2
163Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 162 - Cell 2
164Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 163 - Cell 2
165Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue SportRow 164 - Cell 2
166George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 165 - Cell 2
167Michael Mørkøv (Den) Katusha-AlpecinRow 166 - Cell 2
168Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 167 - Cell 2
169Mark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue SportRow 168 - Cell 2
170Thomas Scully (NZl) Cannondale-DrapacRow 169 - Cell 2
171Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 170 - Cell 2
172Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue SportRow 171 - Cell 2
173Christian Knees (Ger) Team SkyRow 172 - Cell 2
174Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 173 - Cell 2
175Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 174 - Cell 2
176Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-DrapacRow 175 - Cell 2
177Conor Dunne (Irl) Aqua Blue SportRow 176 - Cell 2
178Ian Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 177 - Cell 2
179Adam Blythe (GBr) Aqua Blue SportRow 178 - Cell 2
180Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team0:16:44
181Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale-DrapacRow 180 - Cell 2
182Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:15:39
183Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:17:58
184Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-Merida0:18:08
185Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Katusha-AlpecinRow 184 - Cell 2
DNFLawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue SportRow 185 - Cell 2
DNFJonas Van Genechten (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 186 - Cell 2
DNFMerhawi Kudus Ghebremedhin (Eri) Dimension DataRow 187 - Cell 2
DNSCarlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Movistar TeamRow 188 - Cell 2
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Intermediate sprint - Cuenca, km. 191
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates4pts
2Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Points
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Matej Mohoric (Slo) UAE Team Emirates25pts
2Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe20Row 1 - Cell 3
3Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team16Row 2 - Cell 3
4Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal14Row 3 - Cell 3
5Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team12Row 4 - Cell 3
6Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo10Row 5 - Cell 3
7Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana Postobon9Row 6 - Cell 3
8Luis Angel Maté Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits8Row 7 - Cell 3
9Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits7Row 8 - Cell 3
10Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ6Row 9 - Cell 3
11Aldemar Reyes (Col) Manzana Postobon5Row 10 - Cell 3
12Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team4Row 11 - Cell 3
13Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale3Row 12 - Cell 3
14Rafael Reis (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA2Row 13 - Cell 3
15Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Team Sky1Row 14 - Cell 3
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