The longest stage of La Vuelta is a hilly route all the way up to Cuenca. The climb up to the castle, with its cobblestone pavement, will break up the peloton. The bunch should arrive all spread out, and the finale promises to be an exciting one.
Stage 7: Mohoric wins from all-day break
Matej Mohoric earned the first grand tour stage win of his career Friday, soloing to victory in stage 7 at the Vuelta a España. UAE Team Emirate’s Slovenian attacked a 14-man breakaway late in the race to Cuenca, Spain. Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe) out-sprinted JJ Rojas (Movistar) for third.
Sky’s Chris Froome kept the overall lead after the lumpy transition stage.
Stage 7, top 10
1. Matej Mohoric (SLO/EAU), in 4h43:35.
2. Pawel Poljanski (POL/BOR), at 0:16.
3. José Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) 0:16.
4. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/LOT) 0:16.
5. Alessandro De Marchi (ITA/BMC) 0:27.
6. Floris De Tier (BEL/LNL) 0:27.
7. Jetse Bol (NED/MZN) 0:29.
8. Luis Angel Maté (ESP/COF) 1:21.
9. Anthony Perez (FRA/COF) 1:32.
10. Arnaud Courteille (FRA/FDJ) 1:32.
1. Christopher Froome (GBR/Sky), in 27h46:51.
2. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI), at 0:11.
3. Nicolas Roche (IRL/BMC) 0:13.
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 0:30.
5. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) 0:36.
6. David De la Cruz (ESP/QST) 0:40.
7. Jetse Bol (NED/MZN) 0:46.
8. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 0:49.
9. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) 0:50.
10. Michael Woods (CAN/CAN) 1:13.
Mohoric burst clear as the big breakaway tackled the final climb of the 207km route between Lliria and Cuenca, holding onto his lead until the finish.
“It’s incredible! It’s been a long time since my last big win. I’ve always worked hard and tried my best, but it is great to have a victory again,” said the 22-year-old Mohoric.
The Slovenian rider launched his attack on the descent of the Alto del Castillo 11km from the end to drop his fellow escapees and cross 16 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.
Poland’s Pawel Poljanski came second for the second time in as many days after finishing behind compatriot Tomasz Marczynski on Thursday. Spain’s Jose Joaquin Rojas was third.
“I tried to save as much energy as possible and then just waited until the final which was well suited to my skills,” said Mohoric.
The peloton enjoyed a relatively leisurely afternoon as the breakaway bunch were left to contest the stage win, with Froome, Esteban Chaves and Nicolas Roche all finishing close to nine minutes back.
Four-time Tour de France champion Froome, bidding to become just the third cyclist to complete the Tour-Vuelta double in the same year, remains 11 seconds clear of Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) with Irishman Nicolas Roche (BMC) 13 seconds adrift.
“It was another good day to tick off now and start thinking about tomorrow,” said Froome. “Tomorrow has a really tough final, there will be ramps of over 18 percent on the climb before we descend to the finish, it’s definitely going to be a GC battle tomorrow.”
The race was marred by a number of crashes. One occurred in the neutral roll-out.
Another crash took down U.S. national champion Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) midway through the race, when crosswinds put the peloton under pressure. Warbasse had to abandon the Vuelta due to injuries. Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) also had to abandon.
And then, Caja Seguro’s Rafa Reis crashed out of the breakaway with 10km to go. “I was unlucky to have a crash on the last climb but these things happen in racing. We will try again tomorrow.”
On stage 8, GC riders should come to the fore as the 199.5km race to Xorret de Catí will feature a category 1 climb in the finish and a 3km descent to the line.
“I don’t think [Froome] is satisfied with the lead that he has, and even if he’s theoretically better in time trials, he has to distance his rivals and will try to attack if he has the chance,” said Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), in 24th place at 3:10 in his final grand tour before retirement.