Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) took victory on stage seven of the Vuelta a España, managing to sprint past Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan) and Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) towards the line after being a part of a breakaway which managed to expertly work together for the entirety of the day.
A six-rider breakaway of Herrada, Wright, Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal), Omer Goldstein (Israel-Premier Tech), Battistella and Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Deceuninck) led for most of the stage, although, on the only categorised climb of the day, halfway through the race, Goldstein dropped back to the peloton to leave just five riders out front.
After summiting the Puerto de San Glorio, the break had a three-minute lead with 60km still remaining on the stage. A largely flat terrain followed thereafter, but the peloton left it too late to catch up with the leaders as they headed into the final kilometres of the stage.
Wright led the break under the flamme rouge with a 40-second lead over the peloton, allowing the cat-and-mouse games to begin. Wright initiated his sprint first, bringing the group towards the line, but failed to hang onto the stage win as Herrada sprinted past him.
The Spaniard adds to the stage win he obtained at the 2019 Vuelta, his sprint perfectly timed and proving too powerful. Battistella also overtook Wright on the line, consigning him to third place.
Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) comfortably managed to hold onto the lead of the general classification, staying with the bunch for the entirety of the day while the other GC contenders opted not to launch an attack against the Belgian.
How it happened
Stage seven of the Vuelta a España offered a 190km route from Camargo to Cistierna in the north of the country.
A medium-mountain stage, it featured a flat run to the category one climb, Puerto de San Glorio – 19.5km long at 5.8% – before a flat final 60km, which also featured an intermediate sprint for extra points in the points classification.
AG2R Citroën came into the stage two riders down, having lost Jaakko Hänninen and Andrea Vandrame due to positive Covid tests, while Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) started the day wearing the red jersey, as he leads on GC by 21 seconds.
The stage started with Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious), Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Omer Goldstein (Israel-Premier Tech), Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan) and Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Deceuninck) getting into an early break, and they eventually started to build some distance between themselves and the peloton following multiple failed counter-attacks. The time gap settled around the four-minute mark.
This dropped below three minutes towards the foot of the day’s only categorised climb, though, which included an incline which became steeper towards the latter stages. Halfway up the ascent, Goldstein dropped from the break, unable to keep up with the five riders out front.
Towards the summit, Herrada attacked for the maximum KOM points, with the rest of the break deciding to leave him unchallenged. The Spaniard immediately dropped back to the leaders thereafter, with the peloton 2-45 further back.
After the climb, the peloton didn’t add any extra impetuous to try and catch the break, despite the lead. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl continue to sit on the front of the bunch, and no other team attempted to take the mantle on for a potential sprint at the finale.
With 25km remaining, the peloton sat two minutes back from the break, with the five riders all working together to maintain their lead as best they could. Bora-Hansgrohe started moving forward to lead the chase, though, getting points classification leader Sam Bennett into a stronger position for the green jersey battle.
The time started gradually falling from there, with BikeExchange-Jayco, Trek-Segafredo and Arkéa–Samsic all then lending their hands to bring the bunch back. Indeed, with 10km left, the time gap had dropped to just a minute. However, the break continued to work together, riding as best they could to stave off the pressure from the bunch. Into the final 5km, it seemed they still had a chance to hold on as they maintained a 50-second lead.
And that’s what they did. The peloton failed to cut into the deficit any further over the proceeding kilometres, leaving the five riders to jostle for the stage win.
Fred Wright led for the majority of the final kilometre, leading the group towards the line with the rest of the riders on his wheel. The Briton then started his sprint first, desperately stamping the pedals to try and get to the line quicker. However, he had to settle for third, as both Herrada and Battistella pipped him with superior speed and bike throws.
Vuelta a España 2022 stage seven results
1. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, in 4-30-58
2. Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan
3. Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain-Victorious
4. Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck
5. Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto-Soudal, all at same time
6. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 29s
7. Jake Steward (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
8. Kaden Groves (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
9. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
10. Daniel McLay (GBr) Arkéa Samsic, all at same time
General classification after stage seven
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, in 25-21-34
2. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 21s
3. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 28s
4. Primož Roglič (Svn) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-01
5. Juan Ayuso (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-12
6. Pavel Sivakov (Fra) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-27
7. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-27
8. Carlos Rodríguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-34
9. Simon Yates (GBr) BikeExchange-Jayco, at 1-52
10. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-54