Geoffrey Soupe (TotalEnergies) sprinted to victory on Friday’s stage 7 of the Vuelta a España, successfully navigating a stressful finale and taking his first ever Grand Tour stage win ahead of Orluis Aular (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek).
The final 10 km saw two bad crashes, including one that forced Thymen Arensman (Ineos Grenadiers) out of the race, but overnight leader Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) and the other GC contenders at the top of the overall standings finished safely in the peloton.
- A crash with 10 km to go saw several riders, including stage 6 winner Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), hit the deck. Kuss remounted and quickly rejoined the peloton, but others, like Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), took longer to recover from the fall.
- Inside last 5km, another touch of wheels brought down more riders, with Thymen Arensman (Ineos Grenadiers) hitting the ground particularly hard. He did not get back on the bike, and after being attended to by medical staff for several minutes, Arensman would ultimately leave the race in an ambulance.
- Going under the flamme rouge near the front of the pack, Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) looked to be in prime position to pick up his third win so far in this race, but there was little order at the front of the peloton, and Groves ceded ground before the final corner with some 400 meters to go. Soupe, on the other hand, powered through the turn near the front and then opened up his sprint in earnest still 300 meters from the line.
- It was a long time to hold on at the front, but Soupe pulled it off, surviving a late challenge from Aular to get the win.
- There are not many dedicated sprint trains at this Vuelta, but there has nonetheless been little doubt on each of the three flat stages so far at the race that things would come down to a sprint in the end. For whatever reason, it seems like there has been little interest among teams at the Vuelta to try to catch the sprinters napping, at least up to this point.
- Yet another technical finale featured multiple crashes. Kuss, who is starting to draw some attention as a possible GC contender in this race, did seem OK after hitting the deck. Arensman, however, appeared to be badly hurt.
- Groves is generally going to be the favorite in the bunch kicks at this Vuelta, but he wasn’t especially close on stage 7 as he had to make up too much ground in the finale. After bossing their lead-out on stage 5, Alpecin-Deceuninck was less effective on stage 7.
- Soupe rolled the dice with a long sprint. He seemed to realize that going through the final corner near the front would be pivotal, and he kept pushing from there. It paid off, as the 35-year-old veteran took his first ever WorldTour victory, let alone his first ever win in a Grand Tour.
Quote of the day
As it turned out, Geoffrey Soupe wasn’t even expected to be racing in Spain at first, as Soupe described in his post-race interview.
I didn’t even have the Vuelta [on my calendar] for this year. But Alexis Vuillermoz had a crash in the Tour de l’Ain so the team decided to pick me to [go to] the Vuelta. I didn’t think it was possible to win a stage because it’s really, really, really fast.
Obviously, the change of plans worked out for Soupe and his team in the end.
It was close enough at the line that it took a few moments for Soupe’s victory to be confirmed, but that just made for an even more excited celebration with his teammates after the finish.
ICYMI, there is a hip young person in the lead at the Vuelta.
Also ICYMI, there is an extremely capable Cava drinker in second place overall at the Vuelta.
The climbers will reenter into the equation on stage 8. None of the early ascents is particularly brutal in and of itself but the accumulating elevation gain will put fatigue into the legs before a short but very steep final climb. The first-category Xorret de Catí climb is 3.9 km long but features an 11.4 percent average grade, which will make it a potential launching pad before the downhill run to the finish. It’s tough to say whether this stage will go to the break or the GC riders, but it seems almost guaranteed to go to an elite climber. As usual, look for Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma, and maybe Enric Mas (Movistar).
What did you think of this story?