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The attacks came fast and furious on stage 7 of the 2021 Vuelta a España, and at the end of the stage, there were some changes to the general classification.
Australian Michael Storer earned his biggest pro win after attacking on the stage’s final steep ramps, and American Sepp Kuss bounded into eighth place on GC, up from 19th.
Hugh Carthy and Alejandro Valverde abandoned the stage and ended their 2021 Vuelta campaigns, while race leader Primož Roglič held onto his overall lead by a scant, eight-second margin over Felix Großschartner who raced ahead of Enric Mas and Miguel Ángel López in the overall standings.
Here’s what the stars said after the seventh day of racing in the Spanish grand tour.
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma): 4th, at 1:16
Kuss was temporarily distanced from the front of the race when he suffered a mechanical, knocking him out of contention for the stage win.
The American from Durango, Colorado, quickly got the chain on his bike situated while maintaining his composure, and still managed to ride into fourth on the stage and also land himself in eighth overall.
“The pace was so high on the first climb that that climb immediately blew up the race”, Kuss said. “It was not my intention to join the breakaway. When a number of guys who were short in the GC attacked, I just followed them. We also didn’t want to give them all the space.”
Kuss is a valuable asset to the team and to the team captain — who currently leads the GC — in the mountains, and his ability to stay relatively calm under pressure and still perform shows promise for the next two weeks. His outlook is positive, and his team is again the one to beat at the Vuelta a España.
“I tried to stick with them and wasted a lot of energy which I lacked in the end. We knew it was going to be difficult to control the stage and we expected the competition to put on the pressure, but we survived the day well. We can be happy with how it went.”
Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers): 3rd, at :59
Sivakov was one of the aggressors on the stage, sticking in the break and staying away from danger and the chasing riders from Team Movistar and Jumbo-Visma throughout the day.
While he is not the road captain for the British squad — that responsibility now belongs to Egan Bernal who currently wears the white jersey — Sivakov is a talented rider who can apply his strength and attack Jumbo-Visma and Movistar Team riders.
Like Kuss, Sivakov also dropped his chain in the final quarter of the stage. And like Kuss, Sivakov remained calm, got his bike in working order, and managed to find a fast finish on the final climb of the day.
“I missed a little bit and I got too carried away in the first part of the race. Maybe I underestimated Storer, I dropped my chain on that second-to-last climb and I wasn’t so happy to see him attacking when that happened,” Sivakov said. “I am a bit bitter about it, but maybe he was the best climber today. That’s what I thought and I was feeling good in the final, and I had to do a big effort to come back – in such hot conditions, any big effort you pay.”
Felix Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe): 7th, at 1:32
Felix Großschartner catapulted into second place on the GC, ahead of Enric Mas and Miguel Ángel López (both Movistar Team) after a very strong ride on stage 7.
Großschartner is the best-placed rider for the German-based team after Max Schachmann tumbled another 13 places to 100th overall.
“Honestly, I am a bit disappointed. That was my chance to take red. However, in the end, I think we gambled a bit too long. We just have to accept that,” Großschartner said. “At the moment the situation still hurts a bit, but ultimately there are more positives than negatives here. I’m now second overall and after the first mountain finish no one could have predicted that, and from that perspective, I should be pretty pleased.”
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma): 16th, at 3:33
Roglič did not dominate the final climb of the stage as some predicted, but he did manage to hold onto his overall race lead — if only by a scant eight seconds — on a very tough climbing stage.
“It was really hot today,” said Roglič of 28C°/82F° and sunny skies. “And we were on the first hill right away. It felt like a really long day,” he said.
Roglic, who re-assumed the overall race lead again after giving up the red jersey earlier in the week, has a flat stage ahead, tomorrow, and a challenging day after.
“I was just hoping for it to be over as soon as possible,” he added. “It looks like people are trying their luck, my team worked hard today, but we’ll have to keep an eye on that.”
Commenting about the news of Alejandro Valverde’s abandonment, Roglič offered encouragement for the veteran Spaniard.
“I was just two guys behind. I don’t know how he is but he’s one of the biggest names in cycling so hopefully he’ll be fine and he’ll soon be back,” said the Slovenian.