Stage 6: September 4 – Xаtiva – Xаtiva, 186km
Just a few categorized climbs faced the riders today, and the hardest one, a cat 2 beast named Muela, came too early on to break up the race favorites, but it did spring the break of the day after some jostling. The break featured a quartet of Josй Antonio Lуpez Gil (Andalucнa-Cajasur), Matthй Pronk (Vacansoleil), Bingen Fernandez (Cofidis) and Aitor Perez Arrieta (Contentpolis-Ampo). Vacansoleil are again being sure to make the moves they’ve done well to raise their stock in this Vuelta.
Behind the break Columbia controlled all the action riding tempo on the front, sadly without the services of Kim Kirchen who abandoned before the start. The boys in yellow and white kept the gap at about 4 minutes with just under 60km to go.
Tomorrow’s time trial is long enough to turn the leader board around, so today we see a controlled race. Even with the first few actual climbs, though not serious, the favorites were keeping their noses clean under the watchful eyes of their teams.
While Greipel is in the leader’s jersey, he’s also in control of the green sprinter’s jersey. Under rule, Tom Boonen has the right to wear that jersey but has instead opted to wear his Belgian champion’s strip. Maybe stinging after the near miss at the win yesterday is keeping him from wearing the green. So next in line to wear the jersey by rights is Tyler Farrar, who indeed is clad in green. Perhaps Tyler sees it as motivation?
The break at 30km to go was dipping below two minutes. It was quite clear the peloton had the break exactly where they wanted them and were slowly ramping it up to deliver the bunch for a sprint finish.
At 25km to go, Paulo Tiralongo (Lampre) decided to take a chance and took off from the main group to bridge up to the break. Ahead, only Lopez Gil and Fernandez remained from the break over the last KOM for the day, the Cat 3 Alto de Beniganim. About a minute later Tiralongo made contact, but the break looked doomed as the peloton was sharpening up behind.
And at 16.5km to go, it was all over. Chapeau, valiant breakaway guys! The group then saw the sprinter’s team immediately start jockeying up the sides of the group for position. Albasini lead his Columbia teammates at the sharp end, while Matte Pronk did a track style Madison hand sling to the rider behind him near the back as he let the gap open. Pro move.
At the last climb before the finish, Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) and Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) jumped from the front of the group in their bid for victory. They quickly established a fair sized gap. A Milram rider, Gerdemann, made the jump but couldn’t sustain it and quickly faded. The Quick Step and Columbia teams kept the pace steady and high in the group with still 11km to go.
The Danish national champion and the World Champion put about 15 seconds into the main bunch, and David de la Fuente (Fuji-Servetto) leapt out of the peloton and bridged up to the duo ahead at 7k. The peloton withstood more attacks as Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) also made the junction to make the group up front a quartet. Shortly thereafter that move was brought back.
David Moncoutie (Cofidis) was next to take his leave of the peloton and make a play for the break ahead. The undulating road served the attacking well as they chugged along with 4k to go. Not to be left out, Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) jumped up to Moncoutie to help him make the junction, but the group was ominously just behind.
All together again, the sprinter’s teams with all the big names in tow sized up the finishing straight at full gas. Julian Dean hammered it out with Farrar second wheel, Bennati and Boonen just behind. But it was Borut Bozic of Vacansoleil who jumped early at 150 meters and brough the win home for the wildcard Dutch team with an impressive sprint effort. After all their attacking they certainly deserve a win this year. Poor ol’ Tyler Farrar is a bridesmaid yet again, finishing second after being unable to close to the Vacansoleil rider.
No change to the overall as we head into tomorrow’s individual time trial, which should reshuffle the General Classification and give us our first real glimpse at who is here to win.
Results Stage Six
1 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil 4:40:50
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
4 Davide Viganт (Ita) Fuji-Servetto
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
6 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
7 Sйbastien Chavanel (Fra) Franзaise des Jeux
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto
9 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Columbia-HTC
10 Andrй Greipel (Ger) Columbia-HTC
General Classification After Six Stages
1 Andrй Greipel (Ger) Columbia-HTC 24:21:13
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 0:00:06
3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas 0:00:09
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
5 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank 0:00:18
6 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil 0:00:23
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas 0:00:27
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto 0:00:28
10 David Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:33