A seemingly straightforward transition stage for the Vuelta a España on Friday was marred by a series of crashes for several top contenders, with Thymen Arensman (Ineos Grenadiers) faring the worst and being taken to hospital in an ambulance after falling late on the stage.
The Dutchman, who was the lone abandon on the day, was caught up in a fall around 6km from the line when the peloton was building up speed for the bunch sprint, hitting the ground alongside Belgian racer Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Deceuninck).
After lying on the ground for a long time and being attended by team and race staff, according to Belgian agency Sporza, Arensman was taken to hospital in a neck brace. The official race medical bulletin later reported that Arensman had suffered unspecified head and collarbone injuries and the team has said they will provide an update later on Friday evening.
Earlier in the stage, Arensman’s Ineos teammate and GC contender Geraint Thomas fell heavily and hurt his right knee, the same one that he injured in a crash on stage 2, while Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) narrowly stayed out of trouble after all but hitting the ground.
Thomas’ crash came with around 130km to go when the Briton and another teammate, Kim Heiduk, were caught up in a fall. Thomas was able to regain contact with the peloton and was in the bunch for most of the day, although he finally crossed the line 24 seconds down on the main pack.
“G’s taking an ice bath, he hit his knee really hard, initially it looked really bad, but he was able to get going,” sports director Steve Cummings told reporters at the team bus after the finish.
“At 50km to go, he was a bit nervous, but he’s come round. At the finish it looked like he was really moving much better.”
Asked how Thomas’ crash occurred, Cummings said: “It’s just slippery down here, it’s just the road, it was bad luck. You do 1,000 corners and one’s a bit slippier than all the others.”
While Cummings was still waiting for more information on Arensman when he talked to reporters, he said that the full evaluation of Thomas’ injuries would only come after a full examination: “Let’s see how he is later, it’s hard when he hit the floor. Although it was good that he was able to finish.”
The winner last year of Vuelta’s toughest mountain stage in Sierra Nevada last year, and fifth overall, Arensman was considered an outsider for the GC battle. Prior to stage 7, Thomas and Arensman were lying 23rd and 24th overall…