A cobbled climb, a lack of sprinters and one nervous peloton and more talking points from stage seven of the 2017 Vuelta a España
Matej Mohoric wins from the breakaway
Much like his compatriot Primoz Roglic at the Tour de France earlier this year, Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates) took a sensational win after a ranged attack saw him solo his way across the line from 9km out.
The Slovenian had been in the breakaway all day, a breakaway that built up a lead of over nine minutes at one stage. However, after peaking the final climb of the day, the Alto del Castillo, Mohoric pressed on, riding out ahead of his rivals. It was at the 9km to go mark that Mohoric recorded a big enough gap on the descent towards the finish.
Fellow breakaway rider, Pawel Poljanski, couldn’t go one further than his second place finish on stage six as he out-sprinted José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) to record a second consecutive second place.
Chris Froome plays it safe
Arriving safely in the peloton, today’s transfer stage was all about staying upright for the Chris Froome. His Team Sky colleagues spent the majority of the day dictating the pace of the peloton, happy to let the breakaway go their main focus was ensuring the race leader was protected.
In Tour de Frances gone by Froome’s bodyguards have been happy to do the majority of the day’s work and today’s stage was no different. Contador, Nibali and his other GC riders were also happy to let the British team do the day’s work, with the peloton all looking towards some coastal riding and potential crosswinds.
Winding cobbled climbs plays a part
The final climb of the day took place in Cuenca, a small town with a winding cobbled climb. A final challenge for riders on the day, the climb posed tricky not just because of its cobbled nature but also because of the street’s tight corners.
Rafael Reis of Caja Rural-Seguros knew this first hand after some cobbles and a nearing corner saw him collide with a moto, forcing the rider off his bike to the floor. Despite the close proximity of the roads, the majority of riders navigated the streets of Cuenca safely but thanks to it’s sharp hairpins the breakaway certainly felt the pinch with Mohoric using them to thin out his rivals.
Dimension Data drop to five
Poor old Dimension Data, an initial illness saw them lose three of their riders before today. That number grew to four after Merhawi Kudus crashed at the halfway point of today’s stage.
The Eritrean rider was forced to abandon the race as a result of his injuries taking the African team down to five riders with 14 stages still to go. Like FDJ at the Tour de France earlier this year, it’ll be a tough ask for them to compete for honours as the team may shift their focus to survival.
A lack of recognised sprinters changes the name of the game
Today’s transfer stage would’ve been a great chance for a sprinting team to secure a victory in what is a predominantly climbing race this year. However, with the exit of John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) on stage five the field is bare of any recognised sprinters and that has changed the game.
With no sprint teams forcing the issue it was up to GC teams like Team Sky to dictate proceedings. With Froome’s boys in charge there was no need to chase the breakaway, allowing a breakaway to form and seal the race win.
This also has a more long-term effect, namely on Team Sky’s squad. These are the stages when GC teams can rest and recuperate without fear of losing their place in the race. Now Team Sky and other GC teams are going to have to take over and could lead to more interesting racing among them. Something that fans felt was missing at the Tour de France.