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Jesus Herrada of Cofidis won stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana

  • Jesus Herrada of Cofidis wins stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana.
  • Samuele Battistella of Astana came in second, and Fred Wright of Bahrain Victorious came in third.
  • Remco Evenepoel kept the overall lead.

Jesus Herrada of Cofidis won stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana on Friday. An escape group beat the chasing group over the 190 km from Camargo to Cistierna in Castilla and Leon.

At the end of the race, there was a five-way sprint to the finish line. Samuele Battistella of Astana came in second, and Fred Wright of Bahrain Victorious from Britain came in third.

Remco Evenepoel kept the overall lead while the other main contenders took it easy because there are two big mountain stages this weekend.

Friday’s biggest challenge was the Puerto de San Glorio climb, which was 22.4 km long and went up an incline of 5.5% to a height of 1600m. Some of the sprinters were left behind, which let the escape group get to the finish line before the rest of the pack.

Herrada, who is 32 years old, was so happy that he started crying and had to be helped away by his teammates because he couldn’t talk.

Herrada said that he was still pinching himself over his win when he got off the bus.

“It’s just wild, about 13km out they told us the peloton were catching us,” he said.

“We knew coming to the line it was going to be tough, I just built up my speed and then maintained it and that paid off. I can hardly believe it,” he said.

After Marc Soler of the UAE won stage five, he won stage six for Spain.

Evenepoel had a problem with a wheel, but he was able to keep going. He is 21 seconds ahead of Rudi Molard and 28 seconds ahead of Enric Mas going into the weekend.

“My immediate objective is to hold on to the lead over the weekend. It would be wonderful to get to Tuesday’s time-trial with a lead,” said Evenepoel, who on paper should punish his rivals in the individual effort.

“But there’ll be a major fight starting from tomorrow.”

Primoz Roglic (1min 01sec), the defending champion, and Ineos Rider Tao Geoghegan Hart (1min 27sec), another big name, are close behind the 22-year-old Belgian.

Victor Langellotti (Burgos-BH) kept the polka dot jersey for king of the mountains, and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) from Ireland kept the sprint jersey.

Andrea Vendrame and Jaakko Hanninen of AG2R got sick overnight and had to drop out of the race with Covid. They had to do more testing on Monday’s rest day.

After that, there will be a long individual time trial where, on paper at least, Evenepoel should beat his competitors again before the Vuelta sweeps into the south.

Saturday’s mountain stage ends with a tough 10 km climb with an average grade of 8.5%. Sunday’s stage starts with a run along the coast and ends with a 4 km climb with an average grade of 12%, which may be scarier.

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