This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won stage 7 of the Vuelta a España after he edged out world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) in a tight two-up sprint in Mairna del Aljarafe. The pair escaped with 9 kilometres of the stage remaining and held off the chasing peloton on the technical run-in to the finish.
Gilbert led out the sprint and then dived on Stybar’s wheel when the Czech jumped past him with 200 metres to go. Although Gilbert almost got back on terms, he ultimately lost out by a tyre’s width and the world champion is still without a win in the rainbow jersey.
The bunch came perilously close to catching the pair in the finishing straight, with Robert Wagner (Belkin) taking third place ahead of Adrien Petit (Cofidis), one second down on Stybar.
The stage had earlier been animated by escapees Marco Pinotti (BMC), Christian Knees (Sky) and Francisco Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), who broke clear after 11 kilometres and gained a maximum lead of 7:12 before the sprinters’ teams set to work on pegging back their advantage, and they were caught with 16 kilometres remaining.
In the overall standings, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) retains the red jersey, 3 seconds clear of Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) and 8 ahead of Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff). Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) conceded ground, however, after he crashed 11 kilometres from the finish.