In another day of intense competition, Alejandro Valverde won stage seven of the Vuelta a España. Miguel Ángel ‘Superman’ López finished third, which was enough to reclaim the red jersey, and Nairo Quintana climbed to fourth place.
The fireworks between the favourites didn’t start until the final climb to the finish in Mas de la Costa. The small town, known for its steep climbs promised a spectacular stage seven finish for the general classification candidates and it delivered.
Movistar’s Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic and López from Team Astana were all in a bitter fight to put some time into each other. But even though Valverde seemed to crack several times, and López tried to get away with 500 metres to go, Valverde still took the stage victory. Known to be a great finisher on the steep climbs, he countered López’ attack, leaving him and Nairo six seconds behind. Roglic finished second in the same time as the winner.
But that was enough for López to regain the red leader jersey for the third time this Vuelta. Dylan Theuns from Belgium had taken it from him, after a long break away in stage six, but dropped the peloton early on the climbs. Nairo moved into fourth place, 27 seconds behind López and meaning there are two Colombians in the top five.
Bad luck keeps following the Escarabajos from EF (Education First). Just a day after yesterday’s crash forced Rigoberto Urán to abandon the race, the team’s best qualified rider, Sergio Higuita crashed as well. 22-year-old Higuita got back on his bike, finished the stage and still finds himself in the top 15 of the GC. And Bogotá-born Esteban Chaves lost some time, but is also still within shooting distance of the top five, now sitting in seventh place, 2 minutes 52 seconds behind race leader López.
Egan Bernal, just after winning the Tour de France for Colombia for the first time in history, skipped the Vuelta this year.