The final stage of the Vuelta a San Juan came down to the expected bunch sprint as Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) out-sprinted Maximiliano Richeze (Quick-Step Floors) as local rider Gonzalo Najar (S.E.P. de San Juan) crossed the line in the main field to confirm his overall victory.
Coming into the final stage with a lead of nearly a minute over Oscar Sevilla (Medellin-Inder), Najar’s overall victory was never realistically going to be threatened, but with the final stage being contested on a largely flat circuit around the city of San Juan, there was plenty for the sprinters still to play for.
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A high pace at the start of the race meant that it took more than 30km for a break to get away. The first riders to successfully extract themselves from the bunch were Alex Cataford (UnitedHealthcare), Giuseppe Fonzi (Wilier-Trestina) and Omar Mendoza (Medellin-Inter), who were joined shortly after by Miguel Angel Rubiano (Coldeportes-Claro), Emiliano Contreras (Asociacion Civil Mardan), Sergio Aguirre (Municipalidad de Rawson), and Gonzalo Miranda (Municipalidad Pocito).
Those seven riders enjoyed a maximum lead of just over a minute as Najar’s S.E.P. de San Juan worked hard on the front of the bunch to control the gap, before the WorldTour teams took over the chase in the final 20km, eventually making the catch with nine kilometres remaining.
Trek-Segafredo worked particularly hard in the chase and to keep the pace high to prevent any further attacks closer to the line, and were rewarded with Nizzolo’s stage win, the team’s second of the race after Ryan Mullen’s time trial victory on stage three.
Nizzolo benefited from an excellent lead-out effort by his team, being dropped off in the perfect position with the finish-line in sight, out-sprinting the Quick-Step Floors duo of Richeze and Alvaro Hodeg to take his first win in nearly 18 months.
Vuelta a San Juan 2018, stage seven: San Juan to San Juan, 141.3km
1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, in 2-55-23
2. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
3. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors
4. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6. Manuel Peñalver (Esp Trevigiani Phonix-Hemus
7. Federico Burchio (Ita) Italy
8. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel-Cycling Academy
10. Carlos Alzate (Col) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, all at same time
Final general classification
1. Gonzalo Najar (Arg) S.E.P. de San Juan, in 21-59-06
2. Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Medellin-Inter, at 51 secs
3. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-11
4. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 1-41
5. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-58
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 1-59
7. Omar Mendoza (Col) Medellin-Inter, at 2-08
8. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 2-58
9. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida, at 3-19
10. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at 3-26