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Vuelta a España - Almadén - Talavera de la Reina

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  1. 0km - Result: 1. Kittel, 2. Sagan, 3. Freire, 4. Bennati. But it was a subdued finish after that pile up.

  2. 0km - That was a huge crash, with multiple bodies and bikes involved. Farrar is still down. Scarponi was involved too. He's up but livid as he throws down his glasses in anger.

  3. 0km - A maiden Grand Tour win for the young German Kittel, but all eyes are further back and the remnants of that huge crash.

  4. 0km - Marcel Kittel takes the win!

  5. 0.5km - Murillo Fischer, the Brazil champion, on the front for Farrar. But no, big crash! Farrar is down! Loads of others follow...

  6. 1km - They pass the big hairpin in front of the Flamme Rouge. Skil Shimano are on the front for their man Kittel.

  7. 2km - Big splits in the peloton with this fierce pace.

  8. 2.5km - Now Leopard Trek start to move to the front as they pass a big roundabout.

  9. 3km - Rabobank and Sky and HTC are all coming forward. Loads of trains forming.

  10. 5km - Geox are on the front now, with red jersey Sylvain Chavanel right up there too. The Frenchman wants to avoid any trouble.

  11. 7km - All over for the final escapee. Fouchard is swept up and now the jostling starts for the real racing.

  12. 8km - Frenchman Fouchard is still not giving up despite riding just 20m ahead of the bunch.

  13. 9km - Reading the comments below, clearly "tomas.americano" has no sense of humour. Lighten up! Besides, have you ever been to Spain? It's a country where the mullet is still considered de rigueur.

  14. 10km - Fouchard passes the 10-to-go banner with just a handful of seconds. It's game on for the sprinters - surely we have a bunch sprint on our hands now.

  15. 12km - Fouchard is the lone rider out in front. He has 12 seconds, but is about to give up himself. They were out from km0 today but it was always a big ask.

  16. 14km - Now Fouchard has a go on his own. He's riding 100m up the road from the other three escapees, who sit up and wait for the peloton.

  17. 16km - It was Mate who made the move, although he's quickly caught by the others. They only have 23 seconds on the bunch. Eusktaltel now come to the front, perhaps working for their sprinter Inaki Isasi. Movistar and Liquigas are there too. It's all pretty active.

  18. 17km - ATTACK: One of the Cofidis pair zips clear of the other three escapees, who are pretty much doomed.

  19. 20km - Sky are still setting the pace, with Bradley Wiggins, a lone white shirt in a sea of black, very keen to keep out of trouble. The four leaders have as good as sat up now, with the gap just just 34 seconds.

  20. 22km - Alcaudete de la Jura intermediate sprint: 1. Houanard, 2. Mate, 3. Fouchard. But it was uncontested with the peloton bearing down. The gap is 50 seconds now. The peloton is back as one after those splits.

  21. 25km - There are about three or four echelons on the road now thanks to a combination of that crash and the faster pace. The escapees are less than a minute further up the road now.

  22. 26km - One of the riders to be affected by that split was Euskaltel's Igor Anton, who is fighting to get back with the bunch as Team Sky and Garmin up the pace on the front.

  23. 27km - That crash caused a split in the peloton but it's coming back together now. The four leaders have just 1:28 to play with now.

  24. 30km - CRASH: Four riders go down in the bunch just ahead of a right hand bend, including Dario Cataldo (Quick Step), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Vacansoleil pair Wout Poels and Rusian Pidgornyy.

  25. 34km - The peloton is back amongst the olive trees with the lead dipping below the two-minute mark.

  26. 38km - Fouchard and Mate are in discussion. In fact, Mate is in dicussion with all the leading four riders. He's not happy with the situation. Presumably he wants everyone to put in some more effort as the lead comes down to 2:20. He should whip them with that slender ponytail of his...

  27. 42km - The average speed for the third hour was low again: 35 km/h. The gap is now 2:42 and the temperature has just crept above 30 degrees.

  28. 48km - Intermediate sprint at La Nava de Ricomatillo: 1. Antonio Caballo (Andalucia), 2. Steve Houanard (Ag2R), 3. Angel Mate (Cofidis). But it was wholly uncontested. According to the official stage guide, the riders should have passed through the sprint 20 minutes ago according to slowest estimates - goes to show just how lackadaisical the ride has been today. The gap is now 2:37 back to the peloton.

  29. 51km - The temperature is still in the high 20s - but that's much lower than it has been for the rest of the opening week. Talavera de la Reina weather report

  30. 53km - We have two horses riding alongside the peloton at the moment. The teams of all the sprinters are forming on the front. The Cofidis pair of Mate and Fouchard lead the four escapees, who have three minutes over the bunch.

  31. 55km - The pace is definitely being upped on the front of the bunch - and it must be demoralising for the escapees, whose lead has crumbled to 3:20. It'll be back together soon - although no doubt the peloton will let they stay ahead by a minute or so for as long as possible.

  32. 60km - The gap drops below five minutes. There are two small roundabouts with 300m to go in today's stage - something the sprinters will have to think about.

  33. 65km - The road is rather lumpy now with long dragging downhills puctuated with the odd rise. Today's pace is really slow - well under the slowest estimates on the predicted times for the stage. The peloton has just passed the town of Puerto Rey and the slowest estimate time for arriving there was 16:00 CET. They passed through 20 mins slower than that.

  34. 70km - It's very subdued out there. It's not as hot as previous days, but the sun is still out. The four leaders have 5:20 over the bunch, and it's neither dropping or growing. The Sistema Central rangers are coming right up, although the roads will pass through the valleys and not head uphill today. Quick Step and Liquigas are coming to the front of the bunch, as ar Skil Shimano.

  35. 75km - Spainard Alberto Losada (Katusha) has a banana in his back pocket, the remnants of his lunch. The peloton has strung out a little but the pace isn't too high. Up front, Mate is showing off his trademark rat's tail haircut. Someone should tell him those things went out of fashion more than a decade ago. That said, we are in Spain...

  36. 80km - The gap is still rather stable at 5:30. There is certainly no stress in the bunch and the teams of the sprinters are clearly confident of being able to reel in these men pretty easily once they decide to lay down the hammer. The peloton pass through the feeding zone amid a frenzy of discarded bottles and musette muggings.

  37. 85km - The race is LIVE NOW on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin Media 521) and is also available on your PC via the Eurosport Player: click here to subscribe

  38. 90km - Just had a word with our commentators from the Eurosport box and David Harman is backing Marcel Kittel for the win today. The German youngster won four stages in the recent Tour of Poland, including an unprecedented three successive scalps in the first three days. Sean Kelly, however, is hedging his bets: the canny Irishman simply thinks that today's stage is "one for the sprinters" and will not make any further comment until nearer the finale.

  39. 95km - The leaders have 5:50 over the bunch. A reminder of the riders in the break: Steve Houanard (Ag2R), Antonio Cabello (Andalucia), Luis Mate and Julian Fouchard (both Cofidis).

  40. 100km - One of the four Liquigas riders which finished in the top five yesterday, Eros Capecchi reckons the winner today will be his former team-mate Daniele Bennati. "He's the big favourite, and if he doesn't win then it will be between Marcel Kittel or Tyler Farrar." Both Kittel and Farrar are names being suggested by the readers in the comment box below... keep your thoughts coming.

  41. 105km - The last time the Vuelta came to Talavera de la Reina, Frenchman Anthony Roux took the win from a breakaway, just holding off the bunch in the final straight. Two years before that, Daniele Bennati won the stage. Can the Italian sprinter, now at Leopard Trek, repeat that feat? The gap is back up to six minutes now.

  42. 110km - Johan van Summeren (Garmin) has a mechanical problem while team-mate Dan Martin needs to see the race doctor. The pace has slowed considerably - the average speed for the second hour today is just 35 km/h. The gap is 5:50 for the leaders.

  43. 120km - The Vuelta's second TTT was won by Liquigas on Thursday after the team of Italian defending champion Vincenzo Nibali blew stage six apart in Cordoba. Led over the line by Slovakian sensation Peter Sagan, Liquigas clocked by far the best time of all their rival teams in southern Spain - although oddly enough, they seemed to have picked up Movistar veteran Pablo Lastras along the way. Blazin' Saddles: Liquigas explosion

  44. 130km - The lead continues to drop: 4:45 at the latest check. Incidentally, the best placed rider in the leading quartet is Angel Mate, who is 14:39 down on red jersey Chavanel in the GC.

  45. 135km - Hard work on the front of the peloton, combined with a headwind for the escape, has seen the gap drop to 5:45. If these men are reeled in then we should see the race's first proper bunch sprint - which should excite the likes of Farrar, Haussler, Freire, Boonen, Bennati, Kittel, Degenkolg etc. Who's your tip for today's stage? Have your say below...

  46. 140km - The peloton is currently being controlled by Skil Shimano and Garmin-Cervelo, with the gap coming down slightly after hitting a maximum of nine minutes. Latest check is 8:20.

  47. 145km - Steve Houanard (Ag2R) was involved in the breakaway on Sunday's stage two. The Frenchman, 25, joined Ag2R last winter after two years at Skil Shimano, is riding his debut Vuelta and has no UCI wins to his name. Completing the full house of Vuelta debutants in this breakaway is Spaniard Antonio Caballo (Andalucia). The 21-year-old is one of the youngest riders in the race and is the son of Antonio Caballo, the manager of the Andalucia Caja Granada team.

  48. 150km - Let's take a look at the leaders, starting with the Cofidis pair. Luis Angel Mate is a 27-year-old Spaniard riding his first Vuelta after joining Cofidis from Andrioni Giocattoli last winter. A bit of a journey man, Mate has never been with a team for longer than one season since turning pro in 2007. He has four minor UCI wins to his name and boasts a ridiculous 'rat's tail' hair style. Frenchman Fouchard, 25, also rides a debut Vuelta in his second season as a pro.

  49. 155km - The gap is up to nine minutes now. Today's stage passes through the Sistema Central ranges and is a bumpy affair, although there are no categorised climbs. It's ideally suited to a breakaway such as the one we have now, but with flat finishes few and far between this year (we have actually yet to have one and we're already on day seven!) the sprinters will be keen to reel those men in at some point.

  50. 160km - Swiss powerhouse Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) makes an attempt to break away in pursuit of the four leaders but it is foiled by the peloton. The four leaders now have an eight-minute gap on the bunch.

  51. 165km - Vincenzo Nibali may have missed out on the bonus seconds yesterday after his Liquigas team made a slight hash of the finish and saw the Italian take fourth place. But 'The Skark' nevertheless moved up the GC into third place, 16 seconds down on red jersey Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step). Katusha's Daniel Moreno is in second, a single second quicker than Nibali, while team-mate Joaquim Rodriguez is fourth, at 23 seconds. Vuelta standings and results

  52. 170km - The lead of this quartet of riders has risen to five minutes now. A big coup for Cofidis to have two men in the break. Details on all four of the riders coming up soon - they're hardly household names, that's for sure!

  53. 175km - Yesterday, Slovak sensation Peter Sagan won stage six in Cordoba after a superb combined effort by Liquigas on the final descent to the finish. Sagan, the youngest rider in the Vuelta at just 21 years of age, outsprinted veteran Spaniard Pablo Lastras (Movistar) to take the 193km stage from Ubeda and secure the first Grand Tour victory of his career as Liquigas took four of the first five places. Report: Sagan takes maiden Vuelta win

  54. 180km - Four riders ping off the front right away. They are: Steve Houanard (Ag2R), Antonio Cabello (Andalucia), Luis Mate and Julian Fouchard (both Cofidis). They quickly build up a lead of just over a minute.

  55. 185km - They're off! After an 8km neutral section, the remaining riders get the show on the road.

  56. 12:10 - It's slightly cooler in the start in Almaden today. The sun is out but the temperatures are in the mid 20s. Almaden, incidentally, boasts the world's only hexangonal bullring. Weather report in Almaden

  57. 12:00 - Welcome to live coverage of stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana, a relatively flat 185km ride through the Sistema Central ranges from Almaden to Talavera de la Reina.

 

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