Puebla de Sanabria - Jonas
van Genechten timed his sprint perfectly to win stage seven of the
Vuelta a Espana, the biggest triumph in his career, while Alberto
Contador crashed in a chaotic finale on Friday.
Italian Daniele Bennati of Tinkoff finished second behind the Belgian
IAM Cycling rider, who won in a time of three hours, 55 minutes and 44
seconds, while Spain's Alejandro Valverde of Movistar finished third.
Colombia's Darwin Atapuma will keep the red jersey for another day as
he retained the overall lead, although Valverde cut into the BMC man's
lead and is just 24 seconds off the pace, while Team Sky's Chris Froome
is third and 32 seconds behind.
Luis Leon Sanchez of Astana and Simon Clarke of Cannondale made an
attack which seemed like it was going to carry them to the finish, but
with around 100 metres to go they were caught with Van Genechten
Van Genechten came into the finale on Valverde's wheel before
executing his sprint brilliantly to take the stage, making it three
Grand Tour wins for his team this season.
"At the Vuelta the chances of a victory are really small," he said.
"You have to fight every stage and I tried on stage one and two. This
was one of my goals and tried to just stay with the bunch today. This
is the biggest win, for sure. To be on the podium in a Grand Tour was
one of my dreams and now I've done it.
"In this race there are few opportunities for sprinters. I dedicate
this victory to the team because they have given me everything and I've
been here for two marvellous years."
A touch of wheels caused Contador to fall in the final moments, but
thanks to the three-kilometre rule, he received the same time as his
overall rivals after a stage that took riders from Maceda to Puebla de
Sanabria, across 158.5km.
It was a tight bend that caused the accident, with the Spanish rider
falling badly on his left shoulder, and also hurting his left knee and
hip, with other riders then caught up in the havoc.
"It makes things complicated," he said. "I came inside and saw that
some were going into the curve without touching the brakes, someone hit
me and that's why I went down."
Atapuma thanked his team for helping him retain the red jersey and believes he can maintain it in the days ahead.
"I count on a great team that's shown it can go well, we hope to continue with the jersey," he said.
"Tomorrow will be a complicated stage for me with a difficult and
explosive finish. We will rest well now and let's see what happens."
Although Friday's action as a whole was not enthralling, the finale
was exciting and a similar thrilling ending can be expected in stage
eight on Saturday, with a mostly flat course until a sudden wall towards
Riders leave from Villalpando and head to Valle de Sabero, taking on
the fearsome La Camperona climb as the final hurdle of the 181.5km
Standings from the seventh stage of the Vuelta a Espana, a 158.5km ride from Maceda to Puebla de Sanabria on Friday:
1. Jonas Van Genechten (BEL/IAM) 158.5 km in 3h55min 44sec; 2.
Daniele Bennati (ITA/TIN) at 0:00; 3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) same
time; 4. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) s.t.; 5. Kevin Reza (FRA/FDJ) s.t.;
6. Gediminas Bagdonas (LTU/ALM) s.t.; 7. Gianni Meersman (BEL/ETI)
s.t.; 8. Kristian Sbaragli (ITA/DDT) s.t.; 9. Romain Hardy (FRA/COF)
s.t.; 10. Tosh Van der Sande (BEL/LOT) s.t.
21. Darwin Atapuma (COL/BMC) s.t.; 36. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) s.t.;
37. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) s.t.; 38. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) s.t.; 93.
Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) s.t.
1. Darwin Atapuma (COL/BMC) 25hr 41min 05sec; 2. Alejandro Valverde
(ESP/MOV) at 0:08; 3. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:32; 4. Nairo Quintana
(COL/MOV) 0:38; 5. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) 0:38; 6. Samuel Sanchez
(ESP/BMC) 1:07; 7. Leopold Konig (CZE/SKY) 1:12; 8. Peter Kennaugh
(GBR/SKY) 1:14; 9. Gianluca Brambilla (ITA/ETI) 1:22; 10. Simon Yates
12. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 1:52