Tyler Farrar goes down heavily and riders behind can't avoid the American sprinter...

The young German sprinter Marcel Kittel of Skil Shimano this afternoon confirmed his promise by winning Stage 7 of the 2011 Vuelta in Talavera de la Reina from Peter Sagan of Liquigas and Oscar Freire of Rabobank. However the big drama was unfolding on the road behind them as Garmin-Cervelo's Tyler Farrar went down hard, creating a ripple effect that brought down other riders including lampre-ISD's GC hope, Michele Scarponi.Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel retains the overall lead.

Kittel, who earlier this month won three stages of the Tour of Poland, was set to win the stage when the crash  engulfed the riders behind him in a tangel of bikes and bodies. Farrar had appeared to drift across the Vacansoleil-DCM rider Michal Golas in the middle of the road, a number of other riders coming down behind them as they had no means of escaping the pile-up.

Golas was led away from the scene on foot but had clearly suffered bad road rash in teh crash as well as cuts to his face, while Farrar was treated for a number of minutes by medical staff. We’ll bring you an update on his and other riders’ condition as soon as we can.

The incident provided a dramatic conclusion to what had been, to tell the truth, a pretty mundane day’s racing apart from a brief period when Team Sky put the hammer down as they looked to benefit from a change in wind direction caused by the zig-zagging parcours.

Some 25 kilometres from the finish, the British team’s riders, led by Bradley Wiggins, massed at the front of the peloton and as sidewinds battered the bunch the peloton split into three distinct groups, which must have had some riders with aspirations to a good position in the GC panicking.

Pre-race favourite Igor Anton of Euskaltel-Euskadi was one of those who missed the front group, but luckily for him the peloton quickly came back together, possibly the first bit of good fortune he’s had during the opening week of this year’s Vuelta.

With 17 kilometres left, a further 90 degree left-hand turn gave another opportunity for the group to be split. This time, perhaps mindful of how close they had come to their plans unravelling a quarter of an hour earlier, this time Euskaltel-Euskadi, as well as Liquigas-Cannondale and Movistar, moved to the front of the pack, the peloton using the full width of the road as riders successfully sought to avoid falling victim to the wind.

The peloton had by now all but caught the four members of the day’s breakaway, who had attacked off the front of the bunch immediately the flag dropped to signal the start of racing when the race left Almaden this morning.

Those riders were Steve Houanard of Ag2R, Antonio Cabello from the Andalucia team and two Cofidis riders, Luis Mate and Julian Fouchard. The latter tried to stay out on his own, but was swept up with 7 kilometres remaining before today’s dramatic finish.

Meanwhile, Garmin Cervelo's Dan Martin was penalised 40 seconds for allegedly drafting his team car during yesterday's Stage 6 to Cordoba. The rider claims that he was coming back from a natural break and intends to apeal the decision.

If that is indeed what happened, it seems bizarre to penalise the Birmingham-born rider for something similar to what dozens of riders in the peloton do on a daily basis.

Vuelta Stage 7 Result  1  KITTEL, Marcel           Skil Shimano               4h 47' 59''
2  SAGAN, Peter             Liquigas-Cannondale      All at same time
3  FREIRE, Óscar            Rabobank
4  BENNATI, Daniele         Leopard Trek
5  MONDORY, Lloyd           AG2R
6  HAEDO, Juan Jose         Saxo Bank-SunGard
7  VEELERS, Tom             Skil Shimano
8  PETACCHI, Alessandro     Lampre-ISD
9  GASPAROTTO, Enrico       Astana
10 HOWARD, Leigh            HTC-Highroad
11 BRUSEGHIN, Marzio        Movistar
12 STANNARD, Ian            Team Sky
13 GAVAZZI, Francesco       Lampre-ISD
14 LOBATO, Juan José        Andalucia
15 CAPECCHI, Eros           Liquigas-Cannondale
16 KESSIAKOFF, Fredrik      Astana
17 MALACARNE, Davide        Quick Step
18 DA DALTO, Mauro          Liquigas-Cannondale
19 MAES, Nikolas            Quick Step
20 BONNAFOND, Guillaume     AG2R
 Vuelta Overall Standings after Stage 7 
1  CHAVANEL, Sylvain        Quick Step                27h 29' 12''
2  MORENO, Daniel           Katusha                         + 15''
3  NIBALI, Vincenzo         Liquigas-Cannondale             + 16''
4  RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin       Katusha                         + 23''
5  FUGLSANG, Jakob          Leopard Trek                    + 25''
6  KESSIAKOFF, Fredrik      Astana                          + 41''
7  MONFORT, Maxime          Leopard Trek                    + 44''
8  VAN DEN BROECK, Jurgen   Omega Pharma-Lotto              + 49''
9  PARDILLA, Sergio         Movistar                        + 49''
10 BRUSEGHIN, Marzio        Movistar                        + 52''

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.