In the aftermath of the first rest day, the Tour of Spain resumed on Tuesday with a restless stage towards Villanueva de Valdegovia. Another significant breakaway, in which Matthieu Ladagnous participated, got the opportunity to fight for the stage victory. This time, Canada’s Michael Woods took the win. A minute later, the red jersey group crossed the line with David Gaudu and Bruno Armirail inside it. On a disappointing note however, Groupama-FDJ lost Romain Seigle due to severe abdominal pain.
“I tried to enjoy my day”, Matthieu Ladagnous
If some were hoping for a smooth day to start the second week of the Vuelta, they certainly proved disappointed. On Tuesday, the 160 kilometers and two climbs of Puerto de Orduña were done at full speed. This was, first of all, the consequence of a breakaway that took more than fifty kilometers to take shape. It was only moments before the first climb of the stage that a group of about fifteen men managed to take a real gap. Within this group, Matthieu Ladagnous represented the Groupama-FDJ team. “I wasn’t necessarily feeling very well today but I ended up in front,” he said. “At first there weren’t too many climbers in the group, but then some came back from behind like Alejandro Valverde”. The presence of the former world champion up front, who was just 3 minutes back in GC, eventually led to this frenetic day. The race leader Richard Carapaz made his team pull all day and the gap never really grew.
More than thirty riders ultimately remained ahead of the peloton until the bottom of the final climb, where Michael Woods first went solo before four others bridged across. “I let the group lead me to the bottom of the last climb,” added Matthieu Ladagnous, who then proved logically unable to compete against the best climbers. “It’s always nice to spend a day in front although it’s obviously not the best when you don’t have great legs. I tried to enjoy my day despite my shape, and I’m still happy.” The Frenchman eventually got caught by the favourites’ group in the second climb of Puerto de Orduña, which did not do damage for the overall standings. “It went full gas all day, from start to finish,” Franck Pineau said. “There were riders all over the place, but we were never in a panic. The guys again supported David very well. We never really suffered today. Bruno Armirail and all his teammates did some good work for David, and Matthieu took the good move. It’s all going in the right direction”.
“Romain was really suffering”, Franck Pineau
At the finish line, Michael Woods claimed victory and the red jersey group finished 56 seconds later, with Bruno Armirail and David Gaudu, who now is 17th overall. While the French climber had no problem completing the stage today, his mate Mickaël Delage struggled quite a bit on Tuesday and finished the stage in last position with Jakub Mareczko, almost 30 minutes behind. “He is extremely courageous”, said Franck. “He got here with only two race days in his legs after his crash in Poland and his long immobilization. He fights with the courage of a lion. Today was more difficult because the race was so fast that you better had the right legs. He found himself on his own, it was difficult but he still got there on time. I hope he will sleep well and recover well because he did almost 130 kilometers on his own.” On the other hand, Romain Seigle was not able to go to the end of this seventh stage. “He had a bit of a stomach ache this morning,” explained Franck, “and he quickly found himself without strength during the race. He was very cold, and then very hot. He was shaking and he couldn’t go on like this. Even if the stage had been flat, he would have found it difficult to go all the way because he was really suffering.” The squad is therefore down to six on Tuesday evening, but the spirit is still high on the eve of a fine finish at the top of the Alto de Moncalvillo. “David wasn’t struggling today and he probably tried to save himself as much as possible for tomorrow,” concluded Franck. “If his shape continues to grow as it has been the case for several days, that should make for a good stage.”