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"It was a hard week finishing on short, steep climbs that don’t suit him so well, and now I hope that from now on the longer finish climbs should normally be better for him so we hope he can move up.”

Photo: Sirotti








27.08.2015 @ 22:09 Posted by Andy Pedersen

It was a fast and furious start and a fast and furious ending to the 200-kilometer stage six at the Vuelta a España, and when all was said and done the puncheurs ruled the day, while the general classification contenders successfully navigated another tricky uphill ending to arrive together in a select bunch of 20.


Fränk Schleck stayed with the leading group up the tough 3-kilometer finishing climb and crossed the line in 20th, maintaining his place in the overall ahead of the first big GC test tomorrow, as Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEdge) finished 11 seconds ahead to claim the stage win and reclaim the red leader’s jersey.


The hot weather and undulating parcours made stage six - a transition stage ahead of the first mountain test Friday - a punishing day on the saddle. The stage was plugged as a good chance for the breakaway, resulting in a huge fight to form the day’s escape group. The riders covered 48-kilometers during the first hour and no one managed to get clear; finally after more than 57 kilometers had been raced five men moved ahead, joined later by one more, and the right move had finally molded.


“Unexpectedly, it took forever for the break to go, and it was not flat and with the temperature’s between 30-and 37 degrees [Celsius] it made it really hard,” said director Dirk Demol. “If a big group went we wanted to be represented, and six riders was good for us also. After we concentrated on Fränk to help him as much as possible and bring him into a good position for the last climb.”


“Looks like after one week of racing now that Fränk is confident his form is good. It was a hard week finishing on short, steep climbs that don’t suit him so well, and now I hope that from now on the longer finish climbs should normally be better for him so we hope he can move up.”


It’s still early days in the Spanish Grand Tour and the GC remains tight; with the leader’s jersey up for grabs, the breakaway was never granted a big margin, and by the closing kilometers the last man was brought to heel.


Three riders finished seconds ahead of the GC favorites who arrived in one tight bunch and the leaderboard had little change, however, tomorrow’s stage seven will see its first big shuffle with a mountaintop finish.


“The stage was super hard, fast all day and it was so hot,” agreed Markel Irizar. “The profile was not the same as the road book, much the same as it has been in the other stages; it was up and down all the time with more climbing meters than we expected. For being the first week, it has been really, really hard and for sure the second and third weeks will be even more difficult.”


Other interesting news from the Trek Factory Racing camp in Thursday’s stage was the collaboration between Trek Factory Racing and Shimano in testing out new and innovative road disc brakes.


Who better to play guinea pig than the experienced and skillful Markel Irizar and, despite what he pointed out may be some possible safety concerns, he had rave reviews for the product after the race, which, he said, had huge performance differences from regular caliper brakes.


“Of course it’s a little more heavier and to change the wheel [in case of a puncture] is a little more difficult, but I think that this is the future,” explained Irizar. “Many riders have been concerned about safety, like when it is really hot and if you crash it can cause damage by cutting someone or even burning. So I think for the future Shimano may have to look at covering the disc, and once we are 100 percent sure that nothing can happen, then I think everyone will use it because for sure in the rain the [braking] difference is going to be huge. 


“Today in the heat already the difference was already really big.  I think it’s the same when the electronic shifting came, it had a negative reaction at first, and now everybody loves it. I think that in a couple of years for sure everyone will love it. This is the first step, of course, there are some things we can improve, but this was Shimano’s goal, to have it tested in races to have the information. I will try it again in two days. I think with some small changes that this will be the future.”



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