Jonas Van Genechten of IAM Cycling has won the 7th stage of the Vuelta a Espana in Puebla de Sanabria overnight.
In a thrilling final kilometre the peloton had just reeled in escapees Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and Aussie Simon Clarke of Cannondale-Drapac when Alberto Contador and several other riders hit the ground with 1km to go. Van Genechten surged to the line to hand IAM Cycling a third Grand Tour victory this season.
189 riders left Maceda in the sun for this 7th stage to Puebla de Sanabria. But by kilometer eight, former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) had called it quits with lower back pain. A potential bunch sprint lost one its contenders when Italy’s Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo) pulled out of his first Grand Tour.
Rein Taaramae (Katusha) who had been sick for a few days, also withdrew while Dimension Data team leader igor Anton was seen struggling with stomach problems.
Video of the final kilometre –
Astana raised the tempo with 43.5 km to go as a split took place in the peloton, trapping Samuel Sanchez and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) at the back. Sanchez returned on his own. The Kazkah team, emulating Orica-BikeExchange the previous day, kept pulling and Dario Cataldo went with 30 km to go. The Italian was quickly joined by his team-mate Luis Leon Sanchez, Italy’s Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quick Step), Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) and the relentless Mate, who collected the points at the top of Alto de Padornelo.
With 15 km to go, the five retained a slim 30-second lead but the final descent was too long to hold the chasing pack at bay even if Luis Leon Sanchez and Clarke refused to call it a day and were only caught 300 metres from the line.
At the junction, Contador and several others, including Samuel Senchez, missed a corner and the peloton reached the final stretch in disorder, allowing Van Genechten to sprint for the biggest win in his career. Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) was second and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was third.
Team BMC’s Darwin Apatuma retains the overall lead.