The Tour Take | Vuelta a Espana Stage 7
1st – Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale
2nd – Peter Sagan (Bora - hansgrohe) @ 0:05
3rd – Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) @ 0:05
Red - Rudy Mollard (Groupama-FDJ)
Green - Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar)
Polka Dot - Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)
23rd - Jack Haig
32nd - Nick Schultz
37th - Jay McCarthy
48th - Jai Hindley
78th - Simon Clarke
84th - Damien Howson
123rd - Richie Porte
124th - Rohan Dennis
155th - Alex Edmondson
165th - Michael Storer
174th - Mitchell Docker
1st - Rudy Mollard (Groupama - FDJ)
2nd - Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) @ 0:47
3rd - Emanuel Buchmann (Bora - hansgrohe) @ 0:48
4th - Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT) @ 0:51
5th - Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) @ 0:59
6th - Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) @ 1:06
8th - Nairo Quintana (Team Movistar) @ 1:14
9th - Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 1:18
11th - George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 1:26
12th - Miguel Angel Lopez (Team Astana) 1:27
14th - Rigoberto Uran (Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) @ 1:29
17th - Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) @ 2:50
18th - Thibaut Pinot (Groupama - FDJ) @ 3:08
186km of rolling roads awaited the peloton on Stage 7, as the peloton covered over 2000m of ascent, despite just the two categorized climbs. After starting in Puerto Lumbreras, the peloton passed through the finish line in Pozo Alcon with 50km to go. A finishing loop incorporated the Cat 3 Alto de Ceal (4.5km @ 5.4%) which topped out with 15km to go, before a mostly uphill run to the line.
The Key Point
It’s a tough finale with the uphill finish; the majority of the final 15km head uphill after the Alto de Ceal. Another small, uncategorized climb is also in there; with 9km to go, they’ll head up a 2km climb that averages 8%. A busy last kilometre has the peloton navigate a roundabout and a sharp left-hander.
Floris De Tier, Michael Woods, Alex Aranburu, Nicola Conci, Edward Ravasi, Alexis Gougeard and Oscar Rodriguez formed the seven-man breakaway on what looked to be a pretty breakaway friendly stage. They weren’t given much leash though; Bora-hansgrohe were very active at the front of the peloton, with Peter Sagan apparently feeling better after a rough opening few days.
On the Alto de Ceal, the breakaway’s lead was down to less than half a minute and the break began to attack itself. Michael Woods set off alone, but was brought back by the top of the climb
Even though a few sprinters like Elia Vivianni made it over the top of the climb with the bunch, the continued rise over the top provided a finishing blow. The roads over the top of the climb were twisty, narrow and dusty too; while a few riders tried to attack off the front, Michal Kwiatkowski crashed in the main group
With around 5km to go, there were only 25 riders left and little cohesion in the group including Peter Sagan who showed off his returning form.
Jose Herrada launched a serious attack, quickly gaining 15 seconds over the second group. Herrada looked strong and but when Tony Gallopin bridged over, he couldn’t latch onto the Frenchman, who flew right past.
Gallopin had 15 seconds into the final kilometre and rode onto the finishing straight alone, with time to raise the arms in salute. Peter Sagan finished second, 5 seconds back, with Alejandro Valverde in third.
Rudy Mollard rode superbly to retain the Red Jersey, while Michal Kwiatkowski dropped to sixth as he lost 30 seconds.
3 - Tony Gallopin. Gallopin's move was the perfect opportunist's move, and he had the legs to finish it off.
2 – Jose Herrada. Herrada's move was pretty close to a perfect opportunist's move too, but he was just missing the 10% to finish it off
1 – Michael Woods. The Canadian actually crashed while in the breakaway, 20km into the day. Nevertheless, he soldiered on, and was the last man caught from the break
Leaders: Mate (4), Bouhanni, Clarke, Dennis, Gallopin, King, Kwiatkowski, Valverde, Vivianni, (3), De Plus, Herrada, Mollard, S Yates, (2), Campenaerts, Mollema, Porte, Postlberger, Rolland, Woods (1), De Gendt (-1)
The Next Stage
Stage 8 is to be another flat (ish) day, with just the one categorised climb on the 195km route from Linares to Almaden. The Alto de Espanares (10km @ 3.6%) comes before the halfway point of the stage, so shouldn’t have any effect on the day.
The final 6km are tough though. A 2km step at 4% comes 6km before the line, and the last 2km rise at an average 4% again. Only 200m from the line, the gradient reaches 7%, so it will be a tough ask for a pure sprinter to win.
We saw Peter Sagan's form is finally on the up, and tomorrow seems a perfect day for him. You'd back Vivianni and co to make it to the finish, but the tough finale and finishing kicker might just hurt them, more than it does for Sagan.
See you back at the social club,