Chaves and Nieve 13th and 14th up brutal final climb on stage 7 at La Vuelta

Fri 30 Aug 2019

Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Esteban Chaves and Mikel Nieve finished 13th and 14th respectively on a tough finale to stage seven at La Vuelta a Espana.

The brutally steep ramps of the Alto Mas de la Costa, which averages over 12% and has ramps of 25%, saw the duo conceed one-minute 37seconds to stage winner Alejandro Valverde. 

Chaves now sits seventh overall, two minutes 52seconds behind Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) who returns once again to the race lead.

Tension before a tricky finale:
The opening flat roads of stage seven made it difficult for the breakaway to form, particularly with a tricky finale anticipated. 

Eventually 10riders rode out to a four-minute advantage before Movistar Team began to set the pace, reducing the bunch and dropping the red jersey in the process. 

The breakaway began to split on the penultimate climb but the pressure from the bunch had them just 90seconds behind with 25km remaining.

The wall:
The stage finish was a four kilometre ‘wall’ – a climb with over 12% average and ramps over 20%. 

Its presence quickly saw the demise of the remaining breakaway as the general classification contenders battle it out up front. 

Movistar and Jumbo-Visma pushed the pace before Valverde, alongside Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team), Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) had dropped the remainder of their rivals. 

The quartet continued to gain time towards the line, with Valverde sprinting to the stage win ahead of Roglic.  Behind, Chaves was joined by Nieve to finih approximately one-minute 30seconds behind. 

Esteban Chaves – 7th overall:
“I don’t know the gaps but I tried to limit the losses. I understand when Movistar started to pull that it wasn’t a super good day, but it was good enough to still be up there in the top 10.

“On a climb like this you need to be really smart and that is something that comes with experience. Nieve and I have enough Grand Tours to know our pace and our body to limit the losses.

“It’s a long way to go and we need to keep calm.” 

Julian Dean – Sport Director:
These hard accelerations on the steep climbs are always going to be hard when Esteban hasn’t raced for so long, so he did well. 

“It’s really early days, Esteban had a good ride and we’re another step closer to a critical part of the race that’s still coming.”

La Vuelta – Stage 7 Results:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) 4:34:11
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) ST
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) +0:06
13. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +1:37

La Vuelta – General Classification after Stage 7:
1. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) 28:19:13
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:06
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) +0:16
7. Esteban Chaves(Mitchelton-SCOTT) +2:52

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.