Geoffrey Soupe shocks sprinters to win crash-marred Vuelta a España stage seven

The French veteran scores his first ever win in Europe

Geoffrey Soupe
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Geoffrey Soupe of TotalEnergies shocked the Vuelta a España field to win stage seven along the Mediterranean in Oliva.

The Frenchman, who has been a professional since 2011 but has never before won a race in Europe, started his sprint 300m from the line and held on for victory despite a late charge from Venezuelan champion Orluis Aular of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

Kaden Groves, the pre-stage favourite and leader of the points classification, started his sprint from afar and could only manage fifth; Edward Theuns of Lidl-Trek took third place.

The peloton took the stage at a relaxed pace - it finished half an hour later than predicted - but the finale was marred by a series of crashes.

A crash 10km from the end almost upended stage six winner Sepp Kuss, while a collision with six kilometres remaining saw one of race's fastest men, Alberto Dainese (DSM-Firmenich), affected which ruled him out of contesting the finale.

Most notably, however, was the news that Ineos Grenadiers' co-leader Thymen Arensman was forced to abandon after the same crash. It was not immediately known what injuries the Dutchman suffered.

His teammate, Geraint Thomas, also crashed hard during the stage, but he was able to finish the stage. It was the second time in the opening week that the Welshman had crashed, and poor performances in the two mountain stages has put him more than five minutes behind the race leader Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ).

The day, however, belonged to 35-year-old Soupe. His only three previous victories were two stages and the GC at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo race in Gabon, with he normally being employed as a leadout man.

But with a paucity of bonafide sprinters in the race, Soupe has been given permission to lead TotalEnergies in the sprint stages. He didn't, though, expect to be a victor in Oliva.

"It's incredible for me, for the team," he said. 'I didn't think it was possible to win a  stage - you have to be really fast in the sprint. Today [it was] really nervous in final, a lot of roundabouts, a lot of wind. A sprint of a Grand Tour is always special, it's so surprising."

Like Soupe alluded to, the final 20km were marked by a series of roundabouts, and the tranquil nature to the day gave way to a stressful finale.

The combination of crashes and a final left hand bend with 300m remaining meant that few sprint trains could properly form, resulting in a messy and disorganised sprint that Soupe prevailed in.

Stage eight of the race sees the race return to the mountains, with a finish just after the burtally steep Xorret de Catí climb. There are local weather warnings in place for rainfall and storms.

Martinez, 20, remains in the race lead after the seventh stage, but will come under serious and sustained pressure in the mountains of Alicante. 

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.