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Vuelta a Espana 2019: Valverde wins Stage 7, Lopez back in red

Joseph Delves
30 Aug 2019

Movistar rider wins from a select group of four. Lopez takes the overall lead

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the Stage 7 of the 2019 Vuelta a España. However, finishing six seconds behind him, it was third-placed Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) who reclaimed the overall lead.

Today’s 182km Stage 7 from Onda again ended with an uphill finish for the bruised peloton, this time in the form of the taxing first category Alto mas de la Costa.

Following a brutal series of crashes yesterday, Bora-Hansgrohe’s Davide Formolo was unable to start. The early part of the race also saw Tejay van Garderen (Education First) abandon following injuries sustained the previous day.

Flat for the first part, nine teams managed to get riders into the early break, with the remaining squads initially unwilling to chase. However, once it became clear that race leader Dylan Teuns’s Bahrain-Merida had no interest in contributing, Movistar got it together to haul the escapees back.

With their lead cut to around 2:30 by the penultimate Puerto del Salto climb, Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) decided it was time to push on, with Gianluca Brambilla (Trek–Segafredo), Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates), and Sebastian Henao (Team Ineos) the only riders tough enough to follow.

Back in the bunch, and hoping to set-up team co-leader Valverde on a finish that looked made for the World Champion, Movistar kept the pace high with the help of Astana.

This proved too much for race leader Dylan Teuns, who was soon losing ground thanks to the effort he put in yesterday. Soon second-placed David de la Cruz (Ineos), was also losing ground.

Out front, Sergio Henao and Gilbert dropped the other two leaders with around 12km to go. However, it did them little good, as they, in turn, were caught with 3.8km to go.

Announcing themselves with a brutal initial 22% stretch, on the final climb, Jumbo-Visma went to the front for Primož Roglič. However, soon Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was pulling a select group of four comprising his teammate Valverde, along with Roglič and Lopez up the road.

This quartet having left everyone else behind, the last kilometre saw all four playing it cagily, with Quintana looking to put the others in difficulty.

However, on the final 17% wall they still looked equal, leaving Valverde to attack first with only around a hundred metres remaining. Roglič was quick to grab his wheel but proved unable to get around.