La Vuelta a España Stage 7: Stybar Attacks Successfully on Technical Final, Wins by Centimeters
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Zdenek Stybar continued the aggressive tactics of the team at 205.9km La Vuelta a España Stage 7 from Almendralejo to Mairena del Aljarafe on Friday, and this time the result was a magnificent victory by mere centimeters.
After the legendary effort of Tony Martin, on a 170-plus solo effort that was just meters short of a win in Stage 6, Stybar attacked inside the final 10 kilometers with UCI World Champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team). The two worked very well together, and the chase of the peloton was hindered by a technical parcour — including a roundabout before the flamme rouge. They had a 15" advantage with 2km to go.
Stybar and Gilbert were able to hold off the peloton by just seconds and decide the stage. Stybar saw the approaching riders in the last meters and immediately launched his sprint rather than play cat-and-mouse off the front. Gilbert closed on him, but Styby did the maximum to hold off the Belgian rider. The stage came down to a hair-raising photo finish, with Stybar winning by less than a tire width in a bike throw.
OPQS rider Andrew Fenn was also 6th.
This is the 52nd (50th road) victory for OPQS in three disciplines. OPQS has also now won a stage in every grand tour this season.
"It was really beautiful for me and all of the team," Stybar said "After yesterday, with Tony Martin fighting so hard, we were so proud of him. He gave all of us such big morale. We were really motivated for the stage because of him. After 100km I told my sport director 'hey, if there is some attack on the last climb I am going to try and if not, we can go for the sprint for Gianni or Andy'. I thought this was a good chance for me, but also a comfortable situation for the team because they wouldn't have to pull for the sprint. I also knew the last 10km were really technical, which suited me and would be difficult for the group to catch a breakaway. It was really a perfect scenario. When I launched my sprint, I knew it was the place to go because I saw it the lap before. I couldn't really launch it perfectly because I felt the bunch coming back. It doesn't matter if I won by a centimeter or a millimeter. It's not every day you win against the world champion, so I am really happy. I want to dedicate the victory to the team, but especially Tony. Yesterday was really painful for him and for the team. Tonight, for sure, we will celebrate and share this victory all together."
Stybar came into the Vuelta fresh off success at Eneco Tour, including two wins and the overall victory.
"Since Eneco I felt really good, but I must say the first stages here were really hard for me," Stybar said. "I was not totally recovered from Eneco Tour. But OK, I felt good today and went for it. I won again and this really gives me a lot of confidence for both La Vuelta and the rest of my season."