BALCON DE ALICANTE – Australian climb specialist Michael Storer of the DSM team won a mountainous stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana on Friday, soloing to victory after escaping a 30-rider breakaway.
Primoz Roglic clung on to the overall leader's red jersey as he came home with Egan Bernal and Adam Yates 3min 33sec later. But Spanish hopes were hit as Mikel Landa was dropped and Alejandro Valverde pulled out through injury.
The stage started and finished with major climbs and Storer skipped away with 2km remaining up the Balcon de Alicante, an 8.4km climb with sections at 14 percent gradient giving a slo-mo feel to the progress.
Another escapee, Austria's Felix Grossschartner of Bora-Hansgrohe leapt into second in the overall standings giving Roglic a fright by closing to within 8sec of the lead.
Roglic chased the escape group vigorously with Briton Yates and his team leader Bernal following the Slovenian.
Landa, Fabio Aru and Richard Carapaz all lost around 30sec on their general classification rivals.
Movistar icon Valverde pulled out of what could be his last Vuelta a Espana after sustaining a shoulder injury when he misjudged a corner.
This was 41-year-old Valverde's 15th Vuelta and it will be only the second time he has not completed the entire route of a race he won in 2009.