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Groves misses out as Soupe scoops Vuelta stage win


Geoffrey Soupe came out on top in the predicted sprint finish to win a crash-ridden stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana.

The French Total Energies rider sped down the left into the final corner with 300 metres to go before out-sprinting Orluis Aular and Edward Theuns, with Australian Kaden Groves finishing in fifth place as he tried to win his third stage of the tour.

"I didn't think it was possible to win a stage because it's really, really, really fast in the sprint," Soupe said.

"Yet today it's really nervous in the final (sprint), we have a lot of roundabouts, a lot of wind also. It was a long shot, a surprise, but always special."

A crash in the middle of the bunch with 10km to go brought a few riders down, including American Sepp Kuss, but the winner of stage six was immediately back in the race.

Five km later another high-speed crash at the front of the race saw Dutchman Thymen Arensman (Ineos Grenadiers) taken down.

The seventh stage was a largely flat 201km ride from Utiel to Oliva and, after two riders attacked and broke away in the opening kilometre, the final 40-km saw the bunch ease their way to the finish as the teams lined up their sprinters.

Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and Jose Herrada (Cofidis) opened a gap of two minutes 35 seconds at one stage but a puncture for Okamika allowed the peloton to close. Herrada was caught with 67km to go and Okamika was finally reeled in with 41km left.

Groves, winner of stages four and five, managed to win the intermediate sprint to maintain his grip on the Green jersey.

Frenchman Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) held onto the leader's red jersey with an eight-second gap to Kuss. Spaniard Marc Soler is in third place, 51 seconds adrift of the leader.

An earlier crash saw Geraint Thomas and Kim Heiduk of Ineos Grenadiers involved, with the Welshman needing treatment before returning to the bunch.

Saturday's stage eight is a mountainous 165-km ride from Denia to Xorret de Cati.