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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, August 21, 2021

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Vuelta a España stage seven reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Michael Storer's Team DSM:

Michael Storer capped off an impressive display of team planning and collective strength to take the stage win on the seventh stage of La Vuelta after Team DSM placed five riders in the day’s breakaway of 29 before capping off an impressive victory.

Michael Storer

Michael Storer winning stage seven. Sirotti photo

After an attacking start with the team covering all moves, Storer, Thymen Arensman and Chris Hamilton went clear with three others, while behind as a chasing pack formed, the team was covered once again with Romain Bardet and Martijn Tusveld making the move that eventually bridged across to the six out front leaving a group of 29.

The team rode a controlled race throughout the stage with Bardet also active along the way before the attacks started to fly in the latter stages. The chase from the peloton behind was sustained but not enough to close the gap and into the final 25 kilometres it was all eyes on the stage win for the breakaway.

Having planned the stage to perfection, the team set about attacking from the front first with Hamilton before Storer went clear with two others. This trio became four by the foot of the final climb and once the road kicked up Storer made his move to solo away and win his first Grand Tour stage, leaving it all out on the road. Behind, Bardet made it two in the top six while Tusveld finished in 12th completing a superb day of racing for the team.

After his time on the podium, Michael Storer recapped the day: “I didn’t expect to be a stage winner of the Vuelta today. I knew I was in good form and I knew that I just had to have a go but I’m really happy and surprised that I managed to do it today on a really really difficult stage. I didn’t enjoy that last kilometre but now I’m starting to realise I made it and can really enjoy this victory.

“The plan today was to be aggressive and to own the race. To be honest we really dominated the stage today and I’m so impressed with the guys. I don’t think we put one step wrong today, it was a really incredible effort. We knew coming into today that we were really well prepared and that’s really motivating. As a team we can look for more chances in this race – we don’t rest on our laurels at Team DSM and we’ll keep trying everyday.”

Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “It was a really good performance by the team today. We said that we wanted guys in the break and we wanted numbers so that we could use teamwork to go for the victory. In the end we had five guys in there and they all didn’t stop trying until every one of our climbing guys were there. From then on we showed really good collaboration to come into the final with Michael in a position where he could attack for victory. He demonstrated just how strong he was, but we also showed how strong the team are – I think we can all say that we took a really nice team victory today; a text book one and one to be proud of.”

GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team posted this update:

Primoz Roglic has managed to keep his red leader’s jersey in a fast stage to the top of the Balcón de Alicante. The Slovenian crossed the line in the group of favourites at just over three and a half minutes from stage winner Michael Storer. Sepp Kuss was Team Jumbo-Visma’s best ranked rider with the fourth place. The American was in the day’s breakaway and moved up to eighth place in the general classification.

Primoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic will start stage eight in red. Sirotti photo

It took a long time before a large leading group, including Kuss, got established. Behind the breakaway, Team Jumbo-Visma controlled the stage with Robert Gesink, Sam Oomen and Steven Kruijswijk. They brought their leader in an ideal position to the final climb, where the Slovenian parried all attacks from Ineos and Movistar.

“It was a tough day today”, Roglic said. “It was very hot and the pace was very high from the first climb. We rode at full speed all day and there was barely time to recover. The team did a good job again today. They were very strong and we were in control the whole time. With Sepp in the breakaway it was an ideal situation for us.”

“The pace was so high on the first climb that that climb immediately blew up the race”, Kuss explained. “It was not my intention to join the breakaway. When a number of guys who were short in the GC attacked, I just followed them. We also didn’t want to give them all the space. I tried to stick with them and wasted a lot of energy which I lacked in the end. We knew it was going to be difficult to control the stage and we expected the competition to put on the pressure, but we survived the day well. We can be happy with how it went.”

Here's the report from new GC second-place Felix Grossschartner's Bora-hansgrohe team:

The terrain of La Vuelta's seventh stage featured several tough ups and downs spread out over 152 km through the region of Valencia. With six categorised climbs and more than 3,600 metres of altitude, the climbers were surely to be in their element. The final ascent to Balcón de Alicante, with an average gradient of 9.5 percent, provided a final challenge for the riders at the end of an already demanding stage. A few kilometres after the peloton had left the coastal town of Gandía, the first climb awaited them, and that was where an initial break finally went free from the peloton. Felix Grossschartner, riding as part of a large chasing group, was able to catch up to the leaders after 55 km of racing. During the day this group was able to build up a lead of more than 5 minutes, with the efforts of the breakaway ultimately proving enough for M. Storer to take the stage win. Felix crossed the finish line in seventh place, 1:32 minutes behind the day's winner. Thanks to his strong performance he moved up 11 positions to second overall and now sits only 8 seconds behind Roglič, the current GC leader.

Stage 7 profile

Stage seven's profile was quite challenging.

From the Finish Line:
"Honestly, I am a bit disappointed. That was my chance to take red. However, in the end I think we gambled a bit too long. We just have to accept that. At the moment the situation still hurts a bit, but ultimately there are more positives than negatives here. I'm now second overall and after the first mountain finish no one could have predicted that, and from that perspective, I should be pretty pleased." - Felix Grossschartner

"The idea was that this was going to be a three-way fight between Jumbo Visma, Movistar and Ineos beforehand. Movistar and Ineos both had three men placed higher up in the general classification and everyone else was more or less alone. In this situation, it's not necessarily possible to have all riders on your radar, we had already discussed that on the bus this morning. But Felix did a very smart job of getting into the bigger leading group. He tried to save himself for the finale, and then proceeded to ride very strongly. So it was a great performance by him today. It's a bit of a shame that he was 8 seconds short of taking the lead in the GC. However, he went from 15th place to second place in the overall standings and that is a huge achievement. So now we still have our goal in our sights here, to keep Felix in this top position." - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

And here's the report from third-place Pavel Sivakov's INEOS Grenadiers team:

Pavel Sivakov put in a tenacious stage-long attack from the break to finish third on stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana.

Sivakov was part of a four-rider group that attacked the final climb, with Michael Storer (Team DSM) able to accelerate away from his fellow escapees on the Balcón de Alicante and seal victory. The Russian was active from kilometre zero and accrued mountain points throughout, meaning he was rewarded for his aggressive performance with the King of the Mountains jersey.

Behind, the GC battle saw Adam Yates and Richard Carapaz test their rivals’ condition with several attacks throughout the stage, with Yates pushing the pace on the final climb to finish with a small group of favourites and move into the top 10 overall.

Earlier on, Sivakov had escaped in a 20-rider breakaway which attacked a mountainous stage which was bookended category one climbs. The 24 year old was ever-present in the front of the break, collecting points for the mountain classification before really picking up the pace in the final 48 kilometres.

He slowly shed his fellow escapees, and with just Storer and Lawson Craddock for company accelerated on the penultimate climb to go clear, only to suffer a dropped chain which helped Storer steal a march. Sivakov battled to catch his Australian rival and was able to reach him before the decisive Balcón de Alicante climb.

However, Storer took the advantage on the gruelling nine kilometre ascent and won the stage from Carlos Verona (Movistar) who had caught the pair from behind. Sivakov finished third and will wear the polka dot jersey on stage eight after his 152km  climbing adventure.

Pavel Sivakov finishing third

Pavel Sivakov finishing third. Sirotti photo

Pavel Sivakov:
“I probably got a bit carried away in the first part of the race and then again in the final when there was three of us. Maybe I underestimated Storer a little bit and he was going really well.  I had a bit of bad luck when I dropped my chain on the second last climb and I wasn’t really happy to see him attacking when I did it!

“So then I came back and he was not too keen to pull, but that’s the race and how it goes. But I think anyway, he was the best on the final climb which was really, really hard.

"In the final I felt really good, but I had to do a big effort to come back to the front there and that probably cost me a little bit in the final climb. In such hot conditions you pay for any big effort and it was great to fight for the victory.

"The whole team was really good. In the first part when the race exploded we were with numbers in the front and that was really good to see. Compared to all the other teams I think we were the most represented in the front.”  

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