Geoffrey Soupe (Total Energies) couldn’t believe it himself, but the Frenchman was the fastest in Oliva, where he won stage 7 of La Vuelta 23 ahead of Orluis Aular (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek). At 35 years od, he takes his fifth professional win, by far the most prestigious! Making history as the youngest rider to ever lead a Grand Tour, Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) retained La Roja and will defend it on Saturday on the infamous slopes up Xorret de Cati.
As La Vuelta 23 returns to the valley after an exhilarating finish at the Observatorio Astrofisico de Javalambre, two riders rapidly set off to make the break of the day: José Herrada (Cofidis), participating in his ninth and last La Vuelta, and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), who already escaped on day 4.
Alpecin-Deceuninck control, Thomas goes down
Their lead is up to 2’35’’ at km 12 but Alpecin-Deceuninck already control the gap as they want to set a third winning sprint for Kaden Groves, already a winner in Tarragona (stage 4) and Burriana (stage 5). The gap stabilises at around 2 minutes.
Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) crashes 60 kilometres into the stage. The Welsh star appears to be in pain but he resumes racing.
Okamika pushes on
Okamika punctures with 110 kilometres to go. His breakaway companion Herrada waits for him and the peloton move closer: 1’35’’ into the last 100 kilometres.
The gap drops down under 20 seconds as they ride through Valencia. Herrada is caught with 67km to go but Okamika keeps on pushing. His lead gets back up to 1’15’’, before he gets caught with 41km to go.
Vingegaard and Soupe sprint
Groves dominates the intermediate sprint (34km to go) to increase his lead in the points standings. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) seizes the opportunity to take 2 bonus seconds.
It’s a tortuous finale towards Oliva. Geoffrey Soupe (Total Energies) navigates the tricky last kilometre to power to victory ahead of Orluis Aular (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek).