It was the third of nine uphill finishes for the 2015 Vuelta a España with the 3,3 km finishing climb providing plenty of surprises and a solid battle for the red jersey.Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez was up for the challenge, marking his closest competitors and taking sixth on stage 6 behind winner Esteban Chaves, who earned back the red leader’s jersey after only one day out of the race lead.
“The final was very steep in the first kilometer and it was a surprise to everyone when Chaves attacked so early on the climb. Everyone was waiting for Movistar to do something for Valverde since they were controlling and he was the favorite for a climb like this. Then Dumoulin attacked and everyone was still waiting. Our strategy was to mark Valverde and go with him, and things didn’t happen that way but we all arrived on the same time. Now tomorrow is the first real mountain stage so this will be the chance to see the real condition of the favorites. The real Vuelta starts tomorrow,” said sports director José Azevedo to the Katusha website.
A searing attack came from Colombian climber Chaves with 2,3 km to go. With so far still to go, there was no initial response from the main field until race leader Tom Dumoulin took matters into his own hands and charged after the Colombian with 1,8 km to go.
Others riders then joined in the chase, including Joaquim Rodriguez, but there would be no catching Chaves on this day as he took the win by five seconds to Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin). Rodriguez was sixth at 11-seconds.
Twenty-five year old Chaves again leads the 70th la Vuelta, this time by 10-seconds to Dumoulin, thanks to a time bonus on the finish line. Katusha’s Daniel Moreno and Rodriguez are currently 6th and eighth at 51- and 56-seconds heading into Friday’s first big climb.
Six riders stayed away for the day’s break on the 200,3 km stage beginning in Córdoba and ending atop the Sierra de Cazorla. Stephen Cummings of MTN-Qhubeka was the last man brought back as Chaves put in his impress attack from distance and took back the jersey less than 24-hours after he’d lost it.
The final grand tour of the season heads to the big climbs on Friday. At 191,1 km the stage from Jódar to La Alpujarra ends with the 18,7 km climb of Alto de Capileira. The overall average of the category 1 climb is 5% but a section just before 1 km to go kicks up to 14% and will prove to be a true test of form on a day expected to see extremely hot temperatures.
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