The Tour Take | Vuelta a Espana Stage 6
1st – Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis Credits Solutions
2nd – Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) @ s.t.
3rd – Elia Vivianni (Quick-Step) @ s.t.
Red - Rudy Mollard (Groupama-FDJ)
Green - Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)
Polka Dot - Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis)
16th - Jack Haig (19th on GC)
45th - Simon Clarke
49th - Jay McCarthy
54th - Mitchell Docker
64th - Jai Hindley
65th - Michael Storer
126th - Alex Edmondson
138th - Damien Howson
1st - Rudy Mollard (Groupama - FDJ)
2nd - Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) @ 0:41
3rd - Emanuel Buchmann (Bora - hansgrohe) @ 0:48
4th - Simon Yates (Mitchelton - SCOTT) @ 0:51
5th - Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) @ 0:53
8th - Nairo Quintana (Team Movistar) @ 1:14
9th - Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 1:18
11th - George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) @ 1:26
12th - Miguel Angel Lopez (Team Astana) 1:27
14th - Rigoberto Uran (Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) @ 1:29
17th - Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) @ 2:50
18th - Thibaut Pinot (Groupama - FDJ) @ 3:08
Stage 6 took a 155km route from Huercal-Overa to San Javier, and incorporated only two categorised climbs before a likely sprint finish. The first climb, the Garrobillo, came after 57 km and the second, the Cuesta de Cedacero came after 105km. Both were only third category, and averaged less than 6% for between 3 and 6km.
A perfectly flat final 20km was friendly for the sprinters, and so was the run-in, with only 2 corners in the final 5km. The first with 3.5km to go, and the second with 800m to go.
With a sprint so likely, it wasn’t a day for the break, and three unlucky souls were selected to roast in the Spanish sun out front. One of them, surprisingly, was Richie Porte, with the BMC man finding form after a rough few opening days. He was joined by KOM Leader Luis Angel Mate and Jorge Cubedo. They gained a 3:00 lead while Mate extended his KOM lead, but without any flatland power, they were brought back to the bunch relatively easily with around 30km to go.
The finish was frenetic, as chaotic roads and crosswinds saw teams forcing the pace at the front. With 20km to go as the peloton passed through a town, a poorly marked bollard caused splits, and the crosswinds only reinforced them.
As splits formed, EF- Education First, Bora-hansgrohe, Team Sky and Quick-Step all had their lead men in the front group and so were keen to push the pace.
A reduced bunch of around 50 riders contested the finish, and though QuickStep had nearly a full lead-out, it all got messy with 500m to go and Vivianni was ridden off his own train! Matteo Trentin hit the front with 200m to and looked the goods, but it was the boxer Bouhanni who took the chocolates. In his usual style veering left to right, Bouhanni just had enough in his legs to hold off a fast closing Van Poppel, and Vivianni who rode home in third.
The second group rolled home 1:44 behind Bouhanni and contained Kelderman and Pinot, both of whom took a big hit to their GC chances
The Winning Ride
It hadn’t been a fun Vuelta for Nacer Bouhanni, who was fined yesterday after apparently getting in a fight with his DS and hitting the car! That’s all forgotten now though as he took his first Grand Tour stage win since 2014
3 - Nacer Bouhanni. Not many in the peloton needed a win more than Bouhanni, and thankfully he got one.
2 – Luis Angel Mate. Not resting on his laurels, Mate is going out chasing the KOM Points on Cat 3 climbs to extend his lead in that competition. That’s dedication to the cause.
1 – Richie Porte. Richie wouldn’t have spent much time in the break over the last few seasons, so good on him for taking the bull by the horns
Leaders: Mate (4), Bouhanni, Clarke, Dennis, King, Kwiatkowski, Valverde, Vivianni, (3), De Plus, Mollard, S Yates, (2), Campenaerts, Mollema, Porte, Postlberger, Rolland (1), De Gendt (-1)
The Next Stage
Stage 7 has a real transition stage feel to it – there’s not a lot of flat roads all day. Just the two Cat 3 climbs punctuate the 186km stage, before a difficult finale. The final 15km heads mostly uphill, and incorporates the final categorised climb, the Alto de Ceal, and a small uncategorised climb. The final 6km continues to ride up a false flat, all the way to the line.
This one again might be for the break. Much like Stage 5, it’s probably just a tad too hard to entice the sprinters’ teams to work. Groupama-FDJ will ride enough to defend Mollard’s lead, but don’t expect them to do any more than that. It’s going to be pretty wide open, but you’ll need to be strong, with that uphill finish likely to do damage. Expect some of the guys from Wednesday’s break to reprise their roles; De Marchi, Mollema, Conti, Rolland and Brambilla all would be good tips to shake up the day. We’ll back Brambilla (with little confidence) who’s in need of a win after a pretty slim few years.
See you back at the social club,