Vuelta a España • Stage7

Murcia - Orihuela
Vuelta a España - 3 September 2010

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Overall standings: 1 GILBERT, Philippe (OmegaPharma - Lotto) 27h 12' 38''; 2 ANTON HERNANDEZ, Igor (Euskaltel - Euskadi) + 10"; 3 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (Katusha) +10"; 4 NIBALI, Vincenzo (Liquigas - Doimo)+ 12"; 5 VELITS, Peter (HTC - Columbia) + 16"; 6 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (HTC - Columbia) + 29"; 7 TONDO VOLPINI, Xavier (Cervélo Test Team) + 49"; 8 SCHLECK, Fränk (Saxo Bank) + 50"; 9 PLAZA MOLINA, Ruben (Caisse d'Epargne) + 54"; 10 MOSQUERA MIGUEZ, Ezequiel (Xacobeo - Galicia) + 55"


Provisional results: 1 PETACCHI, Alessandro (Lampre - Farnese Vini) 4h 35' 52"; 2 CAVENDISH, Mark (HTC - Columbia); 3 HAEDO, Juan Jose (Saxo Bank); 4 STAUFF, Andreas (Quick Step); 5 FARRAR, Tyler (Garmin - Transitions); 6 GALIMZYANOV, Denis (Katusha); 7 FÖRSTER, Robert (Milram); 8 HINAULT, Sébastien (Ag2r - La Mondiale); 9 BENNATI, Daniele (Liquigas - Doimo); 10 WEYLANDT, Wouter (Quick Step)


Philippe Gilbert retains the leader's red jersey ahead of Igor Anton and Joaquin Rodriguez.


Alessandro Pettachi (Lampre) attacks first and gets the stage win!! Mark Cavendish (HTC-Colombia)tries to follow him from 200 metres out but gets squeezed into second with Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank) third. Lampre did a great job to lead out the Italian.


It's a long straight-ish finish with two roundabouts to get around. This could get tricky.


This is it then...HTC have fallen away for no real reason - maybe they couldn't get Cavendish close enough?


The peoloton is extremely strung out. HTC head the field. Cavendish is further behind but looks to be in good touch. Quick Step now hit the front. Cavendish could miss out here.


The sprinter's teams now begin to position themselves for the finish. No sign of the Manx Missile yet...nope, there is Mark Cavendish looking smooth.


Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia-Cajasur), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Dominik Roels (Team Milram) and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) are about to file back into the main field. Here we go then...


Just 26s now. This breakaway has been epic but isn't it always the way that it never quite gets enough of a lead? Should be a fascinating finish.


39s is the gap. The peloton are flying. Up front the four breakaway riders have accepted their fate and begin to sit up in their saddles. It'll go down to the sprinters again.


Well, they tried. My goodness they tried but Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia-Cajasur), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Dominik Roels (Team Milram) and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) are about to be swallowed up after a massive effort out in front. The gap is just 43s. /// "1km every 60 seconds......are you drunk? I think you­ mean one minute every 10km" says mathew.barkerquick. Quite right Mathew. I knew it as soon as I typed it!


Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia-Cajasur), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Dominik Roels (Team Milram) and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) still lead after 172km out in front. The lead to the main field is 1m 14s. /// "it will be a massive sprint today. Cavendish will­ make'it today..." says Dan Craiciu


The gap is down to 1m 40s. It might look like a good lead but I fear the breakaway is will be about 30 seconds shy of staying away. But at the front the four riders continue to plug away. They haven't given it up yet.


The common theory is a peloton can claw back ten kilometres every 60 seconds over a breakaway. If that's a theory we're about to see the practice.


It's getting interesting now. Lampre sit on the front of the peloton and the gap is 2m. This breakaway should have been cleaned up by now but maybe the big boys are simply waiting for the moment to strike.


The main field definitely have the hammer down now. The breakaway stands at 2m 17s /// "how do you ask the commentators questions?" says Alberto. If you're referring to our colleagues at British Eurosport TV then Twitter is the best bet. If you mean online, then fire away.


The breakaway continues on. The lead is now around 2m 47s. Not sure if they know the pack is coming but it it will be a great finish if they are able to put in one last shift. That's the four hour mark in the saddle too.


The lead for the breakaway now stands at 3m 31s. With less than 40km to go the pack will have to use up a lot of energy to bring everyone back together for a bunch sprint.


The breakaway now have a lead of 3m 43s. The main field have got out of the cross-wind and are getting organised again. It's a long, long line that is aiming to reel in the front four. Lampre take charge.


Inside the final 50km. The wind has started to play havoc with the main field causing the gap to the breakaway to increase to around 4m. This break, all-of-a-sudden, looks a lot more promising than it did 20km ago. Maybe, just maybe...


The pack are whittling away at the breakaway. The lead is just 3m 50s. It can't last much longer.


Earlier I mentioned Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni. He had developed the same food posioning symptoms as his team-mates. Unfortunately it has proved too much and he has withdrawn.


Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia-Cajasur), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Dominik Roels (Team Milram) and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) are up and over Alto de Hondon. Now can they survive to the finish?


Breakaway rider Dominik Roels (Team Milram) - or 'bacon' to his friends - gets a puncture. No drama as he pulls over. Gets a wheel change then rejoins the other three frontrunners.


The riders now start the climb of the category 3 Alto de Hondon. It should be easy enough but the descent could be crucial for the breakaway's hopes of a stage win. The gap is already under 5m. /// "first" says paul r /// yes you are Paul, yes you are.


Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia-Cajasur), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Dominik Roels (Team Milram) and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) are still clear. I say 'still' as the main field are really hammering along now. The lead is 5m 20s.


73km for the main field to cover to the finish. Just 70km for the four-man break.


As the race goes through Callosa del Segura the lead is down to 5m 32s.


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The breakaway lead - which is hovering just over 6m - sees the front four enter Orihuela for the second time. Their next visit will be for the finish.


The advantage increases slightly to 6m 23s but the temperature refuses to drop. The mercury still shows 33C.


The lead is beginning to ebb away as we enter the final 100km. The four-man breakaway remain 6m 14s clear. Lampre, HTC-Colombia and Garmin continue to chase.


The breakaway reach the feeding station with a lead of 6m 38s. If they don't get going again the chasing pack will swallow them up before the only climb of the day and today's effort will be for nothing.


Speaking of sprinters - this just in from Garmin's Tyler Farrar: "I hope to repeat my victory. I am confident with my legs, but I know I do not count Julian Dena's support. His fall on the first stage was very bad and is still not recovered. "


The breakaway has a lead of 7m 40s but FDJ have now joined Lampre, HTC-Colombia and Garmin at the front of the pack. If these teams can get their lead men over the only climb of the day then the sprinters might still settle this between themselves.


The breakaway's advantage is now 7m 44s. There now looks to be a fair wind coming from the right side. This could cause real problems among the main field if any gaps appear and riders are not able to keep on the wheel in front of them.


The lead to the breakaway is now 8m 7s.


And the second intermediate sprint follows almost immediately: 1st Jorge Martin Montenegro 2nd Dominik Roels 3rd Martin Pedersen


The first of the two intermediate sprints at Rojales: 1st Martin Pedersen 2nd Vladimir Isaichev 3rd Dominik Roels


Leader of the GC Philippe Gilbert said before the race: "Today I'm not going to lose the red jersey."


The temperature continues to hover around 32C. The pack have now got the breakaway under control. The gap is 7m 50s and it's a matter of when they get caught not if.


The riders have had the first hour in the saddle and have mantained an impressive 36kmph. Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia-Cajasur), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Dominik Roels (Team Milram) and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia) still make up the breakaway which is 7m 44s ahead of the main field.


The main field have let the four-man breakaway have their day in the sun and are now focused on reeling them in. The lead continues to come down to 8m 37s.


The lead to the breakaway comes down for the first time today. It's now 9m 55s. No surprise really - Lampre, HTC-Colombia and Garmin are heading the pursuit.


The advantage to the first four is now 10m 27s. The pack now appears to be organising itself. Maybe they sense enough is enough and something must be done about the breakaway?


The main pack now takes it's first look at Orihuela. They will pass through it once more before they finish there later today. The gap to the four leaders is now a lofty 9m32s.


Our intrepid breakaway continues to rack up the kilometres. The gap now stands at 7m 50s.


The gap is now a whopping three minutes. It's safe to assume this will be the main escape of the day. All four riders are well down the GC.


The breakaway now have two minutes on the main field with a roadside temperature of 42 degrees. Yikes.


Well, that didn't take long. Two kilometres into the stage and we have a breakaway of four riders: Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia-Cajasur), Martin Pedersen (Footon-Servetto), Dominik Roels (Team Milram) and Vladimir Isaichev (Xacobeo Galicia). They have a gap of 52s.


The main field rolls out through the streets of Murcia. As usual the neutral zone gives spectators a great chance to see the riders up close, and slowly, before the racing starts for real.


Carlos Sastre has just been given a rather large cake. Sastre's birthday was in April so it's a lovely gesture for one of Spain's favourite cycling heroes.


News coming from Team Sky is that another rider, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni, has developed symptoms of food posioning. The medical advice is to quit the race if the symptoms persist.


Stage six saw Norweigan Thor Hushovd claim the victory in a sprint finish. With another flat stage today he'll hope for more of the same.


Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver of Team Kathusa had these wise words as he signed in: "There are not too many ports, but we must be vigilant in case the wind comes from the side, so it won't be a very quiet day. " /// The riders have been told.


Welcome to stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana. Today's stage will take the riders 187.1km towards Orihuela through Alicante. The only climb of note is the category 3 Alto de Hondon 60km from the finish.