Late crash halts OBE progress on stage seven of La Vuelta a Espana

Fri 26 Aug 2016

Belgian Jens Keukeleire was caught up in the late crash that disrupted the finale on stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana today, losing the opportunity to contest the sprint for ORICA-BikeExchange.

Thankfully, Keukeleire sustained no injuries in the unavoidable incident with teammates Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates both crossing the line safely.

The crash occured on the final corner before Jonas Van Genechten (IAM-Cycling) went on to win the stage from a reduced bunch sprint after a late attack was caught only 400metres from the line.

Stage six winner Yates remains in tenth on the general classification with Chaves still in fifth ahead of tomorrow’s stage eight.

Sport director Neil Stephens was pleased that the team made it through the stage without issue ahead of a tough stage finish tomorrow.

“We approached the day as a transition stage,” said Stephens. “Our main objectives were to protect Esteban (Chaves) and Simon (Yates) and make sure we didn’t lose any time when it got hectic in the finale.”

“It was a tough stage and we achieved our targets, and as per previous stages if the opportunity arised for us to contest the sprint and we have ticked our main boxes then we were going to give it a go.

“Today it was Jens (Keukeleire) who was up for the finale but he was unfortunate to get caught up in the crash before the line. He’s OK and his work ethic and attitude are always really positive so we look ahead to tomorrow now.”

ORICA-BikeExchange did make one trip to the podium at the end of stage seven to be presented with the best team award from yesterday's stage six that was won by 24-year-old Yates.

How it happened:

A fast start to stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana saw six riders attack and form an advantage within the first 25kilometres.

The sextet quickly developed a lead of two minutes over the peloton and continued to work well together over the first climb of the day.

Four minutes separated the field as the race headed into the final 100kilometres with Etixx-Quickstep starting to take an interest at the front of the peloton.

The high temperatures and the tough parcours were beginning to take a toll on both the peloton and the breakaway as Etixx-Quickstep continued to make inroads into the defecit, now at two minutes 12seconds with 80kilometres to go.

Twenty kilometres later and the gap had fallen by another minute over the third category Alto de Fumaces.

The breakaway was caught by the peloton ahead of the final categorised climb with 45kilometres left to race as Astana started to increase the pace.

Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quickstep) and Simon Clarke (Cannondle-Drapac) were part of a five man move that attacked on the climb 25kilometres from the finish and split the front of the race.

The Clarke group had a 40second gap over the now reduced peloton as more attacks continued to try and break clear.

BMC were on the front of the bunch trying to bring the race back together inside the last 20kilometres as the other teams sensed the catch was close and the rotations off the front began in earnest.

Only Clarke and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) remained out front going into the last few kilometres with a slim 20second advantage.

The two riders were caught 400metres from the line just after a crash split the bunch in half with Keukeleire unfortunate to hit the deck.

The sprint was won by Van Genechten with Yates the best finisher for ORICA-BikeExchange in 28th.

Stage eight takes place tomorrow and covers 181.5kilometres from Villaplando to La Camperona-Valle de Sabero - a mainly flat stage for 95% of the route until the steep climb up to the summit finish over the final 8.5kilometres.

Vuleta a Espana stage seven results:

1. Jonas Van Genechten (IAM-Cycling) 03:55:44
2. Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff) ST
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) ST
28. Simon Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:20 

General classification after stage seven:

1. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) 25:41:21
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:00:24
3. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 00:00:32
5. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:38