Cannondale’s Alessandro De Marchi continued his prolific season with a career-first grand tour victory on stage seven of the Vuelta. The Italian escaped from a four-man break to take a comfortable solo win, allowing Alejandro Valverde to retain the leader’s red jersey.
Abandons are like London buses …
… You wait seven days and three come at once. Despite the relatively simple parcours and the slow tempo of the Vuelta so far, today saw the first three riders abandon the race after crashes. Ivan Santaromita (Orica-GreenEDGE) was the first, with Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM) and Bryan Nauleau (Europcar) following soon after.
There were a couple of high-profile riders caught up in accidents, too, though fortunately both Chris Froome (Sky) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) were able to pick themselves up and continue after hitting the deck early on in the stage.
However, though Degenkolb’s fall wasn’t hard enough to force him from the race, it may well have been bad enough to discourage his team from riding hard to close the breakaway down. The four escapees, Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Hubert Dupont (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Johann Tschopp (IAM) could probably have been reeled in with 50km left on the clock but, save for a half-hearted chase from Trek and Lampre-Merida, no one seemed too interested in bringing the group back. It quickly became clear that the winner would be drawn from the escapees.
De Marchi was probably anticipating a messy late sprint, but instead he got to enjoy the pleasure of his fellow breakaway companions gradually dropping off one by one. The first was Dupont, who was dropped with 15km remaining, though the Frenchman was quickly followed out of the back door by the unfortunate Hesjedal, who slid off his bike when rounding a bend, before having his bike run over by the nearby TV motorbike. That left just two out front, though De Marchi quickly dispatched Tschopp with an increase in pace, eventually taking victory by over 1:30.
Drama on the line
The main general classification riders looked like they’d be content to all roll in together, though Froome – apparently fully recovered from his earlier crash – and Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) had other ideas. They both attacked the peloton inside the final kilometre, sparking a frantic drag up to the line. A couple of riders – including Giant-Shimano’s mountain man Warren Barguil – hit the deck in the mayhem, though everyone else crossed the finish safely. Martin and Froome gained three seconds on their rivals, though probably not many new friends.
VeloVoices rider of the day
There’s only one man who could win today’s rider of the day, and that’s stage victor Alessandro De Marchi. The Friulian former track specialist is by no means new to professional road cycling, though he now seems to be finally finding his feet and establishing himself as one of the most versatile riders in the pro peloton.
De Marchi was in an incredible number of breakaways at the Tour de France last month, though he never managed to win a stage and eventually had to settle for the overall combativity award. However, he’s finally broken his grand tour duck, and no one else deserves this win more.
Stage 7 result
1. Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) 4:01:52
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) +1:35
3. Hubert Dupont (Ag2r La Mondiale) same time
4. Johann Tschopp s/t
5. Philippe Gilbert (BMC) +2:17
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 26:52:20
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:15
3. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:18
4. Chris Froome (Sky) +0:20
5. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0:41
6. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:45
7. Robert Gesink (Belkin) +0:55
8. Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:58
9. Warren Barguil (Gian-Shimano) +1:02
10. Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) +1:06
Points leader: John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano).
King of the Mountains leader: Luis Mas Bonet (Caja Rural).
Combined jersey: Alejando Valverde (Movistar).
Team classification: Belkin.