Geoffrey Soupe snapped Kaden Groves’ Vuelta a España sprint win streak by earning his first career triumph outside the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon. It was an important victory for the 35-year-old Frenchman’s ProTour squad TotalEnergies, and a remarkable one considering that Soupe had originally not been scheduled to race the last Grand Tour of the season. Friday’s seventh stage of the Vuelta saw another Frenchman, Lenny Martinez of Groupama-FDJ, who seized the red jersey on Thursday, unchallenged for the race lead.
Friday’s seventh stage was the tale of two halves: a lumpy first 100 km and then 100 pan-flat kilometres. It screamed “bunch sprint!”
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) September 1, 2023
It was obvious to anyone that the stage would end in a bunch sprint, and this knowledge ensured the day’s breakaway would be small. In fact, two Spaniards representing Cofidis and Burgos-BH were the only ones to bother. They got to the flat bit only 1:10 ahead of the peloton.
— Team Cofidis (@TeamCOFIDIS) September 1, 2023
With 62 km to race, there was only Burgos-BH’s Ander Okamika flying his purple flag out front. Just before the day’s intemediate sprint Okamika came to heel. Groves was first at the intermediate sprint, while Jonas Vingegaard moved up over Enric Mas in GC by coming third.
The lead-in to the sprint wasn’t straight forward, as it was marred by two crashes. First, Thursday stage victor Sepp Kuss went down with 11 km to ride, and then several riders hit the deck five kilometres later. Unfortunately, the latter carnage claimed Ineos’ second-best Grenadier on GC, Thymen Arensman, who abandoned.
After the final left-hand curve, Soupe kept up against the left barrier and edged out another wildcard team fellow, Venezuelan Orluis Aular of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.
It’ll another big breakaway/GC day on Saturday, with a Cat. 1 climb peaking 4 km from the line.
78th La Vuelta Ciclista a España Stage 7
1) Geoffrey Soupe (France/TotalEnergies) 4:56:29
2) Orluis Aular (Venezuela/Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) s.t.
3) Edward Theuns (Belgium/Lidl-Trek) s.t.
78th La Vuelta Ciclista a España GC
1) Lenny Martinez (France/Groupama-FDJ) 26:37:04
2) Sepp Kuss (USA/Jumbo-Visma) +0:08