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As it happened: Martinez holds Vuelta a España lead as Soupe lands stage 7


After Thursday's momentum-changing day to Javalambre, stage 7 promises to be a quieter one on the general classification front. The 200.8km run from Utiel to Oliva has no classified climbs and seems to lend itself to the sprinters. 

Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ), just 20 years and 51 days of age, became the youngest rider to lead a Grand Tour since 1904 (when 19-year-old Henri Cornet was retroactively awarded the Tour de France) when he took over the red jersey yesterday. The Frenchman also succeeds Miguel Indurain as the youngest Vuelta leader in history. Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.

General classification after stage 6

The peloton has gathered in Utiel for the start. Roll-out is at 12.50 local time, with the peloton due to hit kilometre zero at 12.57.

Yesterday's tumultuous stage to Javalambre has changed the complexion of this race. Jumbo-Visma possibly have a third leader in Sepp Kuss; they've certainly recouped their early losses on Remco Evenepoel. But the Belgian limited the damage well on the upper reaches of the climb to stay in the hunt, while Juan Ayuso finished like a train to prove he's still firmly in contention. Philippa York has assessed the day and the race so far and you can read her analysis here.

The peloton is making its way through the neutralised zone in Utiel in the heart of Valencia wine country. The route drops from the gently rolling hills of Utiel-Requena wineries to the coastal town of Oliva.


José Herrada (Cofidis) and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) duly attack from the flag and they open a small gap over the peloton. The sprinters' teams would certainly be happy with this configuration for the early break.



Herrada and Okamika are both almost an hour off Lenny Martinez's overall lead, so this is a very comfortable situation for Groupama-FDJ to boot.


Alpecin-Deceuninck take up the reins at the head of the peloton on behalf of Kaden Groves, who is chasing his third stage win of the Vuelta this afternoon. Already a winner at the Giro d'Italia in May, the Australian is enjoying a fine season.


Remco Evenepoel

(Image credit: Getty Images)


An Australian sprinter is the favourite to win today and another has made the headlines away from the Vuelta. Sam Welsford has confirmed his transfer from DSM to Bora-Hansgrohe at season's end. Simone Giuliani has more here.


Lenny Martinez

(Image credit: Getty Images)


Sepp Kuss is riding his third Grand Tour of the year. After saving Primoz Roglic's Giro d'Italia on Monte Bondone and playing a key role for Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour de France, the American is now the best placed Jumbo-Visma rider on GC, 8 seconds behind Martinez and almost three minutes up on Roglic and Vingegaard. All of sudden, Kuss seems to have become a potential winner of this race, even if he downplayed the idea yesterday. Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.


A crash in the peloton sees a trio of Ineos Grenadiers riders hit the ground, but they have all remounted.

The road is still dropping gently towards Valencia. The race hits the outskirts of the city with 70km or so to go and from there, the route follows an entirely flat profile as it hugs to the coast on the way to the finish in Oliva.

Geraint Thomas, incidentally, was one of the Ineos riders who went down in that earlier crash. He has reportedly returned to the bunch, but we will hopefully get confirmation on his condition once live television pictures begin shortly.


Live television pictures begin and we can see Geraint Thomas at the rear of the bunch with his Ineos teammates, but he doesn't appear to be in any particular distress. 



A brief moment of consternation in the break for Ander Okamika, who suffers a puncture. He stops for a wheel change and begins chasing back up to Herrada, who will surely wait for his companion.


Alasdaier Fotheringham reports that Ineos DS Xabier Zandio has just been interviewed on TVE's coverage. Zandio said that Thomas is "fine" after his crash: 'The crash won't help him, but he seems to be ok.'" 

Thomas wheels to a halt at the back of the peloton. The low pace at the time being allows Thomas to stop and gets some treatment to a cut on his left knee. He sets off again with some words of encouragement from Steve Cummings. 


Thomas sits on Jonathan Castroviejo's rear wheel as he makes his way back up to the bunch, which is still being led by Alpecin-Deceuninck.

Thomas is still half a minute or so behind the peloton. There is no particular urgency in his pursuit for now, but it still feels like a sign that his crash may have been more consequential than first anticipated. 


The peloton ambles through the feed zone. The exposed coastal roads after Valencia will doubtless add a little tension to proceedings, but it's all decidedly relaxed for the time being. 



José Herrada (Cofidis) is riding his eighth and final Vuelta. Indeed, the Spaniard has confirmed that this Vuelta will be the final race of his career. His younger brother Jesus will remain with the team, he has a contract with Cofidis for another two seasons.

The television motorbike lingers alongside Remco Evenepoel, who smilingly calls his friend and teammate James Knox by a playfully rude epithet for the benefit of a global television audience. Seems a little harsh, Knox has always been an affable and engaging interviewee








It looks set to be predominantly a headwind on this coastal approach to the finish, and so the risk of splits in the peloton has diminished accordingly, but the GC men will still have to be vigilant in the finale.


Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic are parked towards the head of the bunch. A delegation from Groupama-FDJ is also up there around red jersey Lenny Martinez.

Out in front, the former triathlete Ander Okamika presses on alone, 1:05 ahead of the peloton.

Geraint Thomas was a faller earlier on the stage and he stopped for treatment to his right knee a little later, but the Welshman is safely at the rear of the peloton at the moment, chatting with James Knox.












Those two seconds see Vingegaard move to within three seconds of Evenepoel on GC. More than anything, mind, it has the feel of a little message from the Dane.



For now, the sole entertainment is being provided by Evenepoel, who jokingly tugs at teammate Pieter Serry's saddle near the back of the peloton. 




The on-screen graphic tells us the average speed over the past 20 minutes has been 37kph, which tells all we need to know about the wind direction.




Kuss is chasing back on and he has fallen in with a platoon of Arkea-Samsic riders, who look likely to bring him back to the bunch. Jetse Bol and Pierre Latour were among the riders who fell.


Groupama-FDJ take up the reins at the head of the bunch and the peloton starts to line out a little.




Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Deceuninck) seemed to be the first rider to fall after clipping the wheel of his teammate Kaden Groves. There also appear to be some DSM riders caught up in the incident.





Kaden Groves enters the final kilometre in fourth wheel, tucked in behind his lead-out man. Who can deny the Australian?

UAE lead it out for Molano but no one team has control of this sprint...

Geoffrey Soupe (TotalEnergies) hits out from a long, long way out... Groves has dropped out of contention on the final corner.

Geoffrey Soupe (TotalEnergies) wins stage 7 of the Vuelta a España after a chaotic bunch sprint.

Venezuelan champion Orluis Aular (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) was closing rapidly but he just ran out of road and had to settle for a close second place. Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek) took third.

Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) took fourth. Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who took the last corner a little wide, had to settle for fifth.

Soupe took a neat, inside line through that last right-hand bend and then he struck out with venom from over 200m out. It was a long, long way to go, but he backed himself and held on for the win. Aular came late and came very quickly, coming off the wheel of Theuns, but he was half a wheel behind Soupe at the finish.


Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) finished safely in the peloton to retain the red jersey, eight seconds clear of Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), who recovered from a late crash. Thymen Arensman (Ineos) has been forced to abandon the race after his late fall.

Kaden Groves lost lead-out man Robbe Ghys to crash on the run-in. “I don’t have too much to say, it was pretty disappointing,” Groves tells Eurosport after placing 5th. “Robbe crashed hard off my wheel, I hope he’s ok. I was without a teammate. Then the Caja Rural guy came hard around the last corner and almost caused a big crash, so a lot of us couldn’t sprint. I don’t think it was too dangerous. We as riders are the ones taking the risks. We all want to win and that’s why there are crashes.”

General classification after stage 7

Geoffrey Soupe

Geoffrey Soupe wins stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Geoffrey Soupe on the biggest win of his career: “It’s incredible for me and for the team because normally I wasn’t going to ride the Vuelta this year, but Alexis Vuillermoz crashed on the Tour de l’Ain, so the team decided to pick me to the Vuelta. I didn’t think it was possible to win a stage because it’s really fast in the sprint. Today it was really nervous in the final, a lot of roundabouts and wind in the final. It’s a Grand Tour sprint, it’s always special, but also a surprise.”

This is the fourth win of Soupe's career, and his first outside of Gabon. He won his very first professional race, the opening stage of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo in 2011, but then he had to wait a dozen years for his next win – which, coincidentally, came on the opening day of this year’s Tropicale Amissa Bongo, and he would go on to add the overall title.

The 35-year-old Soupe has spent much of his career in the service of others, most notably Nacer Bouhanni during his time at FDJ and Cofidis. He has continued as a very reliable lead-out man at TotalEnergies, but he showed fine instincts here to claim the biggest victory of his career.

A full report, results and pictures from today's stage are available here.

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