Vuelta a España stage 7: Geoffrey Soupe grabs surprise sprint victory

Frenchman beats Aular and Theuns to the line as Martínez retains overall lead

Clock16:08, Friday 1st September 2023
The sprint for the line on stage 7 of the Vuelta a España

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

The sprint for the line on stage 7 of the Vuelta a España

On a hectic finish on the tight and twisty streets of Oliva, Geoffrey Soupe (TotalEnergies) emerged from a mess of sprinters to win stage 7 of the Vuelta a España.

The Frenchman opened up early on 350m finishing straight, and managed to hold off his charging competitors with a clear run to the line, winning by half a wheel in front of Orluis Aular (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek) took third.

Despite being the stage favourite and having the longest lead-out, green jersey wearer Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) could only manage fifth after slipping out of position on the final corner.

A pair of crashes at 10km and 5km to go disrupted the run-in, with lead-out riders for Groves and Alberto Dainese both being caught out in the incidents.

Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and José Herrada (Cofidis) were the day’s breakaway, having got away within a kilometre of the flag drop and staying up the road for much of the 200km stage, but were brought back well in advance of the anticipated sprint finish.

“It’s incredible for me and for the team,” Soupe said at the finish. “Because normally I didn’t have the Vuelta [in my schedule] for this year, but Alexis Vuillermoz crashed in the Tour de l’Ain so the team decided to pick me for the Vuelta.

"I didn’t think it was possible to win a stage, because it’s really really nervous in the final. We had a lot of roundabouts and a lot of wind. It’s a sprint of a Grand Tour, it’s always but always also a surprise.”

Lenny Martínez (Groupama-FDJ) finished safely in the main bunch to remain in the GC lead. The only main GC change to report was that Geraint Thomas lost another 24 seconds, finishing on the wrong side of a split in the bunch after a hard day that saw him crash and injure his knee. Thymen Arensman is also out of the race, having been taken away in an ambulance after his crash in the finale.

Read more: Vuelta a España: Geraint Thomas in pain after crash with teammate on stage 7

A quiet, transitional day in Spain

Stage 7 of the Vuelta a España started in Utiel, before heading down from the Valencian hills towards a totally flat 80km run-in to Oliva, where a sprint finish was expected. Coming in at 200.8km, stage 7 was the second-longest of the race, with stage 20 set to take that honour at the end of the three weeks.

After a hectic start to proceedings on stage 6, it was a much more relaxed beginning on stage 7, with Herrada and Okamika attacking in the first kilometre and being allowed to get away as the day’s breakaway. The peloton were more than happy to let them go, allowing them a two and a half minute gap after just 10km of racing.

The first 80km of the stage was, as a result, very uneventful with Alpecin-Deceuninck keeping things under control at the front of the peloton as the bunch took the opportunity for a more relaxed day on the road. The only thing that punctuated the action - or lack thereof - was a small crash after around 60km which saw Geraint Thomas go down with his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Kim Heiduk, but the pair were soon back in the peloton.

All wasn’t completely fine with Thomas, though, with the Welshman stopping by the side of the road around 20km later to have his left knee looked at by his soigneur, restarting again in apparent discomfort. This wasn’t a good sign for Thomas, who had already lost time on GC, and can’t afford to lose more with two big climbing days coming up.

Read more: Behind the scenes at the Vuelta a España: how teams handle the heat and rain

Heading into the final 80km of racing, the peloton spurred into action perhaps somewhat prematurely, becoming edgy with the threat of crosswinds looming as the road headed towards the coast and some exposed roads. This resulted in an uptake in the pace, which saw the break’s advantage start to tumble.

Herrada was brought back with 68km to go, whilst Okamika pushed on and rebuilt a one minute lead as the peloton calmed again. The peloton let Okamika dangle for another 30km, but ramped their speed up again heading towards the 40km-to-go mark and brought the Spaniard back with 41km remaining.

Kaden Groves took maximum points at the intermediate sprint ahead of Marijn van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), whilst Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) got up in third to take two bonus seconds.

Alpecin-Deceuninck, dsm-firmenich and Bahrain Victorious were leading proceedings heading towards the finish, but the pace was relatively relaxed with no team wanting to make things too hard, too soon. Things ramped up with around 20km to go as the race entered a more urban area, making position key through the various roundabouts and road furniture littering the road.

With 10km to go, a crash in the peloton saw a handful of riders from Jayco AlUla, TotalEnergies and Bora-Hansgrohe come off their bikes, with Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) also being held up. Another bigger crash on a narrower stretch of road saw more riders come down at 5km to go, taking two of Kaden Groves’ lead-out men out of contention and Thymen Arensman (Ineos Grenadiers) out of the race altogether.

Alpecin-Deceuninck led the way into the final 1,500m, but it was a messy affair on the tight and turning streets of Oliva. Going into the final corner with 350m to go, Groves was forced out of position, losing the wheel of his final lead-out man and getting boxed in between his competitors.

Soupe was able to launch first, and pulled off a long solo sprint to just hold off the rest of the charging field, finishing half a wheel ahead of Orluis Aular to win his first Grand Tour stage at the age of 35. Edward Theuns took third, whilst stage favourites Sebastián Molano and Kaden Groves had to settle for fourth and fifth after both struggling with position in the final few hundred metres.

If you head to our Vuelta a España landing page, you will find everything you need to know about the race, including our race preview, the route, start list and individual stage previews. Check it out for all that and more.

We’ll be showing live and on-demand coverage of all 21 stages of this year’s Vuelta a España from Saturday, August 26 to Sunday, September 17, plus daily expert analysis on The Breakaway. Head over to GCN+ now to check the start times of each broadcast so that you don’t miss out on a moment of the action! As always, territory restrictions will apply.

Race Results

1

fr flag

SOUPE Geoffrey

TotalEnergies

4H 56' 29"

2

ve flag

AULAR Orluis

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA

"

3

be flag

THEUNS Edward

Lidl-Trek

"

4

co flag

MOLANO Sebastian

UAE Team Emirates

"

5

au flag

GROVES Kaden

Alpecin-Deceuninck

"

6

nl flag

VAN DEN BERG Marijn

EF Education-EasyPost

"

7

es flag

GONZÁLEZ David

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA

"

8

fr flag

PAGE Hugo

Intermarché-Circus-Wanty

"

9

it flag

GANNA Filippo

INEOS Grenadiers

"

10

si flag

GOVEKAR Matevz

Bahrain Victorious

"

Provided by FirstCycling

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