Maybe the peloton had an idea that the break might actually stay away on this stage as the first hour of racing was brutal with a fight to be the one to make the right breakaway. In the end it was De Marchi, Ryder Hesjedal, Hubert Dupont and Johann Tschopp who got away and this unusually strong group built up a 6-7 minute lead at one point.
Behind there was a bit of mayhem in a hot and stressed peloton. Team Sky's Chris Froome crashed on a descent scraping himself up badly but otherwise appeared relatively unharmed. Giant-Shimano's sprinter John Degenkolb also crashed which might hamper him in his chase of stagewins in the days to come. The stage also saw the first three abandons of the race with Ivan Santaromita, Aleksej Saramotins and Bryan Nauleau stepping off.
Coming into the finale it was apparent that Movistar were not motivated to catch the breakaway and the other teams that took the front, Lampre and Trek most notably had left it too late as the leaders held a lead of around three minutes with hard, slight uphill, roads in the final 20 kms that made the chase in the big group less effective than it would have been on flat roads where their advantage in numbers would have worked to their advantage. De Marchi was active up front forcing the pace uphill which put Dupont in trouble reducing the group to three. Hesjedal suffered some bad luck on a downhill curve when his front wheel slid out causing him to crash. He might have made it back up quite quickly had a TV motorbike not proceeded to run over his bike, ending his chances. The two in front briefly waited for the Garmin rider but soon realized he was not rejoining fast enough so they pressed on. De Marchi once agin forced the pace and Tschopp had no answer so the Italian was on his own with about 15 km to go.
Much much too late Orica-Greenedge contributed at the front to try and set up Michael Matthews but t was clearly futile and the field soon resigned themselves to the fact that the escapees could not be caught. DeMarchi started celebrating already a few kilometers out as the nearest chasers were about a minute behind. He finished solo to give the closing Cannnondale a successful final Vuelta even when their otherwise reliable winning-machine Sagan seems to be misfiring. Alessandro De Marchi already had his future set, he will be joining BMC in 2015, but today crowned a good season for the 28 year old where he was already voted most Combative rider in the Tour de France.
TOP 10 Stage 7
|1.||ITADE MARCHI, Alessandro||66||Cannondale Pro Cycling||4h 01' 52''|
|2.||CANHESJEDAL, Ryder||101||Garmin Sharp||4h 03' 26''||+ 1' 34''|
|3.||FRADUPONT, Hubert||11||AG2R La Mondiale||4h 03' 27''||+ 1' 35''|
|4.||SUITSCHOPP, Johann||129||IAM Cycling||4h 03' 27''||+ 1' 35''|
|5.||BELGILBERT, Philippe||44||BMC Racing Team||4h 04' 09''||+ 2' 17''|
|6.||IRLMARTIN, Daniel||102||Garmin Sharp||4h 04' 09''||+ 2' 17''|
|7.||GBRFROOME, Christopher||191||Team SKY||4h 04' 10''||+ 2' 18''|
|8.||ITABRAMBILLA, Gianluca||172||Omega Pharma - Quick-Step||4h 04' 12''||+ 2' 20''|
|9.||ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro||151||Movistar Team||4h 04' 12''||+ 2' 20''|
|10.||ESPCONTADOR, Alberto||201||Tinkoff - Saxo||4h 04' 12''||+ 2' 20''|
Top 10 GC:
|1.||ESPVALVERDE, Alejandro||151||Movistar Team||26h 52' 20''|
|2.||COLQUINTANA, Nairo Alexander||159||Movistar Team||26h 52' 35''||+ 15''|
|3.||ESPCONTADOR, Alberto||201||Tinkoff - Saxo||26h 52' 38''||+ 18''|
|4.||GBRFROOME, Christopher||191||Team SKY||26h 52' 40''||+ 20''|
|5.||COLCHAVES RUBIO, Esteban||182||Orica GreenEdge||26h 53' 01''||+ 41''|
|6.||ESPRODRIGUEZ, Joaquin||131||Team Katusha||26h 53' 05''||+ 45''|
|7.||NEDGESINK, Robert||34||Belkin Pro Cycling Team||26h 53' 15''||+ 55''|
|8.||ITAARU, Fabio||21||Astana Pro Team||26h 53' 18''||+ 58''|
|9.||FRABARGUIL, Warren||111||Team Giant - Shimano||26h 53' 22''||+ 1' 02''|
|10.||NEDKELDERMAN, Wilco||31||Belkin Pro Cycling Team||26h 53' 26''||+ 1' 06''|
The weekend in Spain offers something for everyone, sprinting on Saturday and a mountaintop finish on Sunday. Degenkolb might be a bit of a questionmark tomorrow so the advantage couldswing back to FDJ and Nacer Bouhanni in that duel. On Sunday we will see if the opponents can keep capitalizing on the the fact that Quintana doesn't appear to be quite at his peak yet. If the common assumption that he will grow stronger as the race progresses then everyone should be looking to put as much time into him now as hey can. In week three they might need every second they can get.