Roche finishes in select group on Vuelta’s seventh stage

Frenchman Tony Gallopin was first to the line – Rudy Molard still overall leader

Nicolas Roche finished as part of a 30-man main bunch on stage seven of the Vuelta a España on Friday, placing 21st on the lumpy stage to Pozo Alcón. Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale) was first to the line, five seconds clear of Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and the rest of the chasing group.

“We thought that today was a real 50/50 day,” said Roche. “It was one of those stages that suited a lot of the big GC [general classification] riders as well as punchy sprinters and we saw that today. But, it was also a day that could have suited the breakaway.

“As we came into the final kilometres, the pace really picked up and while I’m happy that I was able to follow the moves this time around, I just wasn’t able to try and counter attack. I had it in the back of my mind but the legs just wouldn’t respond. So I thought it would be better to make sure I stayed with that group to the finish line.”

Dan Martin was 61st, four minutes and 27 seconds back.

Roche remains 24th overall, five minutes and seven seconds behind overall leader Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ). Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), who had been sitting second overall, dropped to sixth after he was delayed by a crash. Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is now second overall, 47 seconds behind Molard.

Martin is 64th; he is using the race as preparation for the world road race championships, and will also chase stage wins if his form improves sufficiently.