Heat and Hills hit hard on La Vuelta stage 7

Michael Storer (Team DSM) won stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana, taking the victory from the breakaway on a very hot and humid climbing stage. Carlos Verona (Movistar) was 2nd and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) 3rd.

Stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana was the first really tough mountain stage of the race, with 6 categorized climbs squeezed into just 152km of racing. The stage was made harder still due to the hot and humid conditions.

Team Qhubeka NextHash had the primary goal of protecting Fabio Aru throughout the stage, until the final summit finish climb where it was then up to him to battle among the GC contenders.

A fast start saw a big group of 29 riders go clear over the first mountain with the peloton in pieces behind. After 60km of racing the peloton was split into two groups, separated by a minute, with the breakaway group a further 2-minutes ahead of the first half of the peloton.

Team Qhubeka NextHash had Fabio Aru and Sergio Henao in the first part of the peloton, with all the other main GC contenders. The remainder of our team was riding in the 2nd part of the peloton. It was at this point though that our South African sprinter, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg came into difficulty.

The heat and humidity seemed to be taking its toll on Janse van Rensburg and he was unable to hang onto the group, becoming isolated with still 70km to go.

Upfront, the pace never slowed as the breakaway began attacking each other with the final climb approaching. At the base of the climb it was 4 riders from the original break that hit the steep slopes at the head of affairs, the GC contenders 4-minutes down. Storer went on to prove he was the strongest of them all, and took a good stage win.

Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) led a group of 7 GC contenders home, for 15th place on the stage, behind the remnants of the break. Aru was in the next group of GC contenders, 30 seconds down on Yates and co. This meant Aru would slot into 12th place on the overall GC, though only 2-minutes separate the top 15 places at the moment.

The sad news of the day was that Janse van Rensburg had lost his battle in the heat and hills, and finished outside of the time cut. Just a very unfortunate day for the South African to suffer from a bad day.

I am very disappointed at the moment. It was totally unexpected as well as I have been feeling really good. Even this morning in the bus I was feeling positive and up for the stage. I think it was just the humidity that killed me. I couldn’t push on the climbs and I was just really suffering. I did 70km on my own and missed the time cut by a few minutes. It’s really disappointing to leave my teammates behind. I do want to say thank you to the Spanish people on the side of the road. Their support was really inspiring and helped me to get to the finish. I wish my teammates the best for the rest of the Vuelta as this is a very special race.

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg