Geoffrey Soupe was the surprise winner of stage seven of the Vuelta a Espana as the Frenchman edged out Orluis Aular in a chaotic sprint after a crash-strewn finish in Oliva.

A late corner on the 201km stage from Utiel put favourite Kaden Groves and several other quick men out of position and set up a messy finale, in which TotalEnergies’ Soupe just hung on to beat Caja-Rural’s Aular in a photo finish.

The battle for position had already been significantly disrupted by a big crash a little over six kilometres out which left Thymen Arensman of the Ineos Grenadiers needing lengthy medical treatment before leaving the race in an ambulance.

Earlier in the stage, the Ineos team leader Geraint Thomas had also gone down, and continued to receive treatment to his left knee as the Welshman looked uncomfortable for much of the day, losing another 24 seconds on the line after the crashes contributed to splits in the bunch.

Sepp Kuss, winner of Thursday’s mountain stage to Javalambre, was also caught up in a late incident but quickly got back into the peloton to stay second overall, eight seconds behind 20-year-old Frenchman Lenny Martinez, who retained the red jersey he took on Thursday.

The rest of the main favourites finished in the front group to mean no major changes ahead of Saturday’s return to the mountains.