De Marchi Soloes to Victory in Stage 7 of Vuelta a Espana
For the first time in the Vuelta a Espana 2014, a breakaway has produced a stage winner. Today, Alessandro de Marchi (Cannondale) won Stage 7. The Italian surged away from a daylong break to win the hilly, 169-km ride from Alhendin to Alcaudete in 4:01:52. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp-POC) finished second at 1:34, and Hubert Dupont (Ag2r-La Mondiale) outsprinted Johan Tschopp (IAM Cycling) for third at 1:35. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains the race leader.
From the start, the racing was aggressive. After the peloton snuffed out two early sallies, Hesjedal and Tschopp attacked. De Marchi and Dupont joined the pair, and the break of the day had formed. Behind, a crash took down several riders, including Chris Froome (Sky), who remounted and rejoined the peloton after a 15-km chase, and Ivan Santamorita (Orica-GreenEdge), who broke a finger and abandoned.
With 69 km left, the break led the bunch by 7:18, which was close to making Hesjedal the virtual race leader. Lampre-Merida and Trek began chasing, but the pursuit could not make sufficient inroads into the escapees’ advantage. With 20 km to go, the fugitives were 4:07 ahead of the peloton.
With 14 km left, Hesjedal crashed and needed a new bike when a TV motorcycle rode over his old one. De Marchi attacked, and Tschopp followed him. Two km later, the Cannondale man led Tschopp by 0:20 and the peloton by 3:05. With five km remaining, his lead over Tschopp had increased to 0:45. Dupont and Hesjedal joined forces with Tschopp, but De Marchi widened the gap all the way to the finish.
Behind, the heads of state attempted to take time from each other. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), and Froome attacked on the rise to the finish. Froome succeeded in taking 0:03 out of his competition.
On the run to the finish, Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) crashed, striking his head against the ground and suffering road rash. The Frenchman got off of the ground slowly, and he walked his bike across the finish line. Because the crash occurred in the stage’s last three km, Barguil kept his ninth place on GC.
De Marchi, a domestique, gets few chance to win. He must make the most of each opportunity, which he did today. “I was lucky in the final,” the Italian said. “I had one chance to play in the final, and I played it. The start was fast; I knew I had to wait to the climb to make one attack to try. I was lucky to make one attack. I am really happy. I don’t win so much; I have to work for the team. I don’t have a lot of days for me. When I do, I have to play good. The Tour was a hard race, and I tried lots of times, but it’s destiny. Now, in the Vuelta I win; I’m happy. I have to say thanks to the team for my life.”
In the overall, Valverde leads teammate Nairo Quintana by 0:15 and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) by 0:18. Stage 8 will be a flat, 207-km run from Baeta to Albacete that will not change the standings. A sprinter should win. Which one? Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr)? Moreno Hofland (Belkin)? John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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