With over 3,700m of climbing over 152km, Stage 7 will be the first major test for the overall contenders
After a subdued start to the Vuelta a Espana, the battle for the Red Jersey finally kicked off on Stage 6 as Primoz Roglic attacked in the final kilometre to take back the lead of the race and stamp his authority on his rivals.
In the first five stages, the main contenders played it safe. Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), the overall favourite, has been content to stay in the bunch keeping out of trouble and matching any attacks as he needed to. On Stage 6, however, he showed his strength on the final 2km climb, Alto de la Montana de Cullera, to finish second behind stage winner, Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo), and putting time into the likes of Egan Bernal, Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) and Mikel Landa (Team Bahrain Victorious).
He heads into Stage 7 with the Red Jersey on his back, and 25 seconds over his nearest rival, Enric Mas (Movistar), 41 seconds on Bernal, and over a minute to Landa and Yates, leaving the likes of the Ineos Grenadiers, Movistar, and Team Bahrain Victorious on the back foot as we go into the mountains of Stage 7. How do you beat Roglic? You try to tire the Jumbo-Visma machine out by keeping a strong pace in the climbs and attacking up high.
We’re heading for the east coast of Spain, starting Gandia and finishing on the summit of Balcón de Alicante, not far from the tourist-favourite city of Alicante. It will be a hot day with forecasts for Gandia putting the temperature at 30C, and with six categorised climbs (the first of which starts after just 6km), over 3,700m of ascent and 152km of riding, it will be the toughest test of the race so far and perhaps the first must-watch stage of the Vuelta.
Route map and profile
It should be a day for the GC contenders, unless a talented climber breakaway can make a move stick. Primoz Roglic is the favourite to win Stage 7 and so far looks the strongest rider overall. With Sepp Kuss supporting him, he will be tough to beat on the climbs. Adam Yates and Egan Bernal are better over longer climbs than the short, punchy one we saw on Stage 6. Both need to get their campaigns started and take back time, expect one of them to make a move for victory and for the Ineos Grenadiers to attack Jumbo-Visma. Meanwhile Landa has perhaps the strongest mountain support team, and, while he has been underwhelming so far in the Vuelta, he showed he had good form in the Vuelta a Burgos coming into the final Grand Tour.
Watch out for: Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo).
The stage is set to begin at 12.07pm BST and is expected to conclude at around 4.30pm BST.
How to watch on TV
In the UK, the stage will be shown live on Eurosport from 1:05pm and on GCN+ from 12.05pm.