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Friday Night Vuelta

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For the first time it was a successful day for the breakaway. One of the most active breakaway-riders of the year , Cannondale's Alessandro De Marchi got himself a solo stagewin after dropping his breakaway companions in a fairly hard finale f stage 7.

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''

Weekend Baby!

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.