La Vuelta | Stage 7
Uninterrupted Coverage, Vitoria-Gasteiz - Villanueva de Valdegovia (160.4km)
Bennett enters new top 10
No huge change in the top 10 except Valverde rising one place to ninth (and cutting his deficit to 2'03") while George Bennett also makes an entry after being in the break.
Here's how Woods outfoxed his rivals
A second career stage win for Michael Woods, who turned things round after missing out on Sunday...
Stage 7 top 10
A second win of the season for Michael Woods...
Dribs and drabs, then the pack
Peters and Martin are almost caught by the chasers who cross the line at 13 seconds before the main pack comes home around 56 seconds down. There will be no big changes in the GC - although Valverde slash 50 seconds or so from his 3'00" deficit - a lot of hard work for very little returns.
Victory for Michael Woods!
The Canadian from EF Education First timed that to perfection! He takes the win ahead of an irate Omar Fraile of Astana, who is just caught by compatriot Alejandro Valverde of Movistar as they cross the line a couple of seconds behind Woods.
Woods attacks on a downhill segment ahead of teh flamme rouge, which he passes with a good gap on lone chaser Fraile. Tense stuff.
2km to go: Party of five again
The leaders come back together and Martin is the next to have a pop. They're attacking each other, but they're not knocking it off or hesitating - which has kept their gap at 23 seconds to the chasing group. The pack is one minute back as grey clouds loom - there's going to be an almighty downpour soon.
3km to go: Still 20 seconds
The leaders have not surrendered any time to the chasers and, shortly after the 3km banner, Fraile takes it up with an attack. Woods closes it down and the duo has a small gap on the other three.
6km to go: Valverde attacks!
After another acceleration from Martin over the brow of a hill, the Frenchman crouches above his top tube but is swept past by Valverde who dances clear of the others. He opens up a gap until Fraile closes it down with Peters. Classic cat-and-mouse-and-cat-and-mouse-and-cat stuff here.
8km to go: Woods causing problems
The Canadian is refusing to pull and is a bit of a passenger in this leading quintet - until he attacks, to earn him the unpopularity award on social media, it seems. To be fair, they're all at it now, with Martin the latest to try and ping clear. Just 15 seconds now for the leaders with Peters clinging on for dear life and shaking his head in pain.
10km to go: The chase is on
Just 16 seconds now for the five leaders while the main pack, all strung out with Andre Amador on the front, is 1'15" back. The leaders have started to attack each other with Peters putting in a dig before Woods leads the others back. Fraile and Valverde are the danger men here if it comes to a sprint. But they may be caught yet.
13km to go: 25 seconds for quintet
Woods was swept up by the others on the descent and these five leaders are combining well with a gap of 25 seconds on the chasers: Bennett, Kuss, Costa, Formolo, Elissonde, Arensman, Storer, Aranburu, Schelling, Nieve and Herrada. The pack is 1'40" down.
18km to go: Martin in polka dots
The Frenchman beat Valverde to the summit to take 6pts (Woods ahead took the maximum 10pts) but that is enough to put him above Sepp Kuss in the KOM standings by three points. So it will be the Cofidis man in blue polka dots tonight.
20km to go: Peters and Valverde chase
Nans Peters went clear in pursuit of Woods before Valverde skipped away from the chasers. Omar Fraile and Guillaume Martin soon join forces to make a strong quartet in pursuit of our lone leader. He has 16 seconds.
22km to go: Woods next to attack
The Canadian zips clear after Lafay was brought to heel. Ide Schelling put in the softener before Michael Woods countered. But the EF rider's gap isn't too large - and he has the Jumbo duo of Bennett and Kuss leading the chase behind.
24km to go: Lafay attacks
The young French climber Victor Lafay goes clear of the break 5km from the summit. This climb has 15 hairpins and peaks out at 15%. Many of the escapees have been swept up by the pack now, including the polka dot jersey Tim Wellens.
25km to go: All over for Godon
The rangy Frenchman is all but reeled in by this Movistar-led break. Behind, Carapaz is down to just two Ineos teammates - Van Baarle and Amador - and he has the Briton Hugh Carthy right on his wheel. There's a gruppetto off the back of the pack and it includes, most notably, Tom Dumoulin. The Dutchman has struggled in this Vuelta after his efforts in the Tour.
27km to go: Puerto de Orduna
Godon starts the Cat.1 climb (7.8km at 7.6%) with a gap of 15 seconds on the chasers and 1'20" on the pack, which has split in two following some hefty tempo set by Ineos approaching this final test.
Strong look from Roglic
Trying to decide if he's more Lego Man or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle...
32km to go: Godon goes clear
The Frenchman has dropped Valverde and Dewulf on the descent ahead of the final climb. The Wellens-Cort-Bennett trio was swept up and, I think, the other two as well. Ineos still front the pack, 1'55" in arrears.
38km to go: Wellens drives chasing trio
The polka dot jersey has skipped clear of the break with Bennett and Cort in pursuit of the leaders. Wellens wants those KOM points and, perhaps, a second stage win. Cort is a good tip for the win, too.
42km to go: Trio still ahead
It looked like Godon just pipped Dewulf for the intermediate sprint as that trio continues with a gap of 25 seconds over the other escapees. We have that second climb coming up after the drop down into the bowl.
55km to go: Valverde on the attack
The former world champion - who hasn't won all year and looks a shadow of himself - has gone clear of the break with two others: Dorian Godon of Ag2R-La Mondiale and Stan Dewulf of Lotto Soudal. They have about 15 seconds on the other escapees.
60km to go: CRASH!
One of the Bora riders has left the road and crashed heavily - and at speed - into a coarse ploughed field. We first thought it was Ide Schelling from the break but we're hearing it is actually Jay McCarthy, who must have come down towards the back of the pack. That looks nasty and he's being put onto a stretcher so his race is probably over.
65km to go: Terpstra distanced
He may have instigated this move, but the Dutchman is one of the first to be tailed off. He's been distanced along with Jannik Steimle of Quick-Step. The best-placed rider in the break on GC is that man Valverde, who is 3:00 down. George Bennett is 3:22 down and Mikel Nieve is 3:28 down. The gap is currently just about two minutes.
Dan Martin speaks
Talking of Israel Start-Up Nation, Froome will be joining the Irishman Dan Martin at his new team. Already a stage winner here in Spain, Martin, 3rd on GC (not that he's bothered), spoke to Eurosport ahead of today's stage.
Dan Martin - 'I'm racing for enjoyment and not concentrating on GC at the moment'
68km to go: Ineos keeping a lid on things
It's still the Ineos Grenadiers team of red jersey Richard Carapaz who are on the front of the peloton to keep that break in check. Former Vuelta winner Chris Froome is doing a shift as he continues his comeback from injury ahead of his expected move to Israel Start-Up Nation this winter.
70km to go: Break breaking down
There's not much cohesion in the break which is unsurprising because of its size and the precarious nature of its advantage. Rui Costa tried to go clear earlier and some others have tried their luck. The gap is 1'30" as the peloton passes through the feed zone ahead of an uncategorised climb. It's still drizzling and the wind is pretty blustery too. Not nice conditions for cycling...
Carthy deserves EF support
Before the rest day - as Tao Geoghegan Hart was on the cusp of Giro glory, our man Tom Owen wrote a little piece about EF Pro Cycling's Hugh Carthy, whom he reckons should be fully backed by his team at the Vuelta.
"Carthy deserves his team's unquestioning support after starting the race so brightly in Spain," Tom writes. Here's the piece:
The Preston rouleur spoke to Eurosport this morning as well...
Hugh Carthy - If there's an opportunity to take time I'll go for it, every day there is a chance'
82km to go: Pushing two minutes
The four leaders were reeled in by the large 37-man break, which now has 1'55" on the pack. Three Jumbo riders here in George Bennett, Kuss and Lennard Hofstede. Other big names include Davide Formolo, Mikel Nieve, Jose Herrada and Alejandro Valverde, as well as those aforementioned big-hitters, the likes of Cort, Woods, Peters, Wellens, Guillaume Martin, Terpstra, Madrazo, Elissonde, Costa, Power...
92km to go: Kuss in virtual polka dots
The American zipped ahead of the quartet to take maximum KOM points over the summit ahead of Martin, Power and Peters. Their advantage over the break is only around 10 seconds with the pack 1'30" back now. Those 10pts put Kuss on 24pts in the standings, with Martin up to 21pts and ahead of the polka dot incumbent, Wellens, on 19pts.
94km to go: Four in the lead
Peters has been joined by Sepp Kuss, Rob Power and Guillaume Martin as they approach the double-digit section of this climb near the summit.
95km to go: Peters attacks
Is that Alejandro Valverde somewhere ahead of the Ineos-led peloton? There are riders all over the road on this climb with around 40, it seems, now in the lead group, with a lead of just 55 seconds on the strung-out pack. It's pretty foul werather - looks more like the Cairngorms or Peak District out there. The latest to attack from the break is the Frenchman Peters, who managed to bridge over with that chase group.
98km to go: Ineos Grenadiers control the pack
The Ineos teammates of red jersey Carapaz are on the front of the pack. They trail the break by 1'15" with that Wellens group at 30 seconds now. The chase group is large and also includes the likes of Kenny Elissonde, Omar Fraile, Michael Woods, Nans Peters, Guillaime Martin and Angel Madrazo, as well as that man Wellens. 17 in total.
110km to go: Puerto de Orduna
We're onto the first of two ascents of the Cat.1 Puerto de Orduna (7.8km at 7.6%). It peaks out at 14% and is known as a gear-breaker. We have a chase group that includes the polka dot jersey Tim Wellens who have edged clear in pursuit of the leaders, who have a gap of just over a minute.
Some more details and photos of this climb from our friends at ProCyclingStats here:
110km to go: 17 riders clear
Finally we have a move which has stuck. I can bring you their names: Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Jannik Steimle (Deceuninck Quick-Step), Rui Costa (UAE-Team Emirates), Niklas Eg (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Storer (Sunweb) Alex Aranburu (Astana), Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe), Matthieu Ladagnous (Groupama-FDJ), Magnus Cort (EF Pro Cycling), Dorian Godon (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Stan Dewulf (Lotto Soudal), Victor Lafay and Pierre Luc Périchon (both Cofidis), Stefan De Bod (NTT), José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) and Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).
115km to go: Terpstra on the attack
The Dutchman Niki Terpstra has opened up a small gap ahead of 11 chasers - including Sepp Kuss of Jumbo-Visma and Rui Costa, the one-time world champion from Portugal. They're approaching the technical descent into that basin ahead of the major climb of the day, which the riders attack on two occasions.
120km to go: More foiled attempts
Around a dozen riders tried their luck but it came to nothing. Now we have Spain's Jhojan Garcia (Caja Rural) seeing if he can force a move. Nothing has stuck so far today but you'd expect a group to go ahead - or on - the climb. A fairly zippy opening hour has seen the peloton cover 45.2km.
125km to go: Back together
It's all over for the TGV of Clermont-Ferrand as Cavagna and those four chasers are now reabsorbed by the pack. Will another move go clear before we drop down into that bowl ahead of the first ascent of the double-digit first category climb of the Alto de Orduña?
130km to go: Four chasers
Cavagna now has four riders trying to bridge over. They are Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo), Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Jonathan Hivert (Total Direct Energie) and Hector Saez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). The gaps are tiny though - 10 seconds between the Frenchman and his pursuers, and another 10 seconds back to the pack. The pace has been pretty relentless so far.
Froome's custom paint-job
He may be in 98th place more than an hour down on his teammate Carapaz on GC, but Chris Froome isn't let that faze him in his final Grand Tour for Ineos. He's got a special custom-painted Pinarello from the artist Romero Britto which he will auction off at the end of the race, which is a very worthy cause. Let's hope he can bounce back from his injuries and tricky start here in Spain with some stronger performances towards the end of the race.
140km to go: Cavagna still alone
Poor chap. The lone leader has been looking over his shoulder as if to encourage others to join him, but for now he's still on his own with a 20-second gap over the pack.
152km to go: Cavagna still out ahead
The Frenchman made his move after a fast and frantic opening 2km. He had the Dutchman Stefan De Bod (NTT Pro Cycling) in pursuit but that came to nothing. The current gap is only 15 seconds so still very much touch and go.
159.7km to go: They're off!
The second phase of this Vuelta is under way - and we have an early attack from the French livewire Remi Cavagna of Deceuninck Quick-Step.
Carapaz vs Roglic: Part II
It's a chilly day in northern Spain with both red jersey Richard Carapaz and green jersey Primoz Roglic apparently opting to don their team gilets over the top of their kit, giving the Jumbo-Visma leader something of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle vibe.
Roglic dropped to fourth on Sunday and he's currently 30 seconds down on the Ecuadorian with Hugh Carthy (+18) and Dan Martin (+20) ahead of him. The Slovenian leads Carapaz in the green jersey standings by 79pts to 61pts.
No withdrawals after all Covid tests are negative
The good news ahead of today's stage is that no riders tested positive for coronavirus over the rest day and so we have 163 riders taking to the start today. They have rolled out and are currently in the neutral zone ahead of the official start...
Day for the breakaway?
Slim pickings as usual for the sprinters here in Spain with two ascents of the so-called 'gear-wrecker' climb of Orduña enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Hola, amigos! Pink becomes red...
Now Tao Geoghegan Hart has won the Giro, we here at Eurosport can give the Vuelta our undivided attention. And it's the British rider's Ineos Grenadier's teammate Richard Carapaz who is in the leader's red jersey in Spain following the first rest day.
For all of you who have tuned in to read the honey-typed words of the esteemed Tom Owen, I'm afraid that it's me, Felix Lowe, who is back in the live cycling hot seat. But fear not, Tom and I will be dovetailing for the remainder of the race, with our Hemingway-loving cyclo-scribe back in the virtual office on Thursday for Stage 9.
Right, without further ado, let's press on with the task in hand - a 159.7 (gosh, the Vuelta is specific) kilometre stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Villanueva de Valdegovia in northern Spain, just south of Bilbao (no relation to Pello).
RELIVE A MEMORABLE WIN FOR TAO AND INEOS IN ITALY
While we're warming up, why not relive Tao Geoghegan Hart's stunning win at the Giro d'Italia, and then pray to the cycling gods that the same drama will be served up in Spain.
Tao's fairytale: How Geoghegan Hart and Ineos won Giro
HOW TO WATCH LA VUELTA LIVE – TV & LIVE STREAMING
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