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Attacking right from the bottom of the final climb, Chaves held off the chase of Martin and Dumoulin to take a solo win in stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana and move back into the race lead

Photo: Sirotti

DANIEL MARTIN

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ESTEBAN CHAVES

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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TOM DUMOULIN

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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27.08.2015 @ 17:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) proved that his win in stage 2 was no fluke when he came out on top in the second uphill finish of the Vuelta a Espana on stage 6. Attacking right from the bottom of the final climb, he got an immediate gap and even though they chased hard, Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) were unable to catch him, meaning that the Colombian took both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.

 

Yesterday was a mixed day for Esteban Chaves who could both celebrate a stage win for teammate Caleb Ewan and regret the unfortunate loss of the leader’s jersey as he was caught out behind a split. However, the strong Colombian seemed pretty unfazed by the loss, probably knowing that he had the legs to take it back.

 

Already in stage 2, Chaves had proved his impressive condition by dropping all the pre-race favourites to ride himself into the race lead but he still had to back up that performance in the later stages. That’s what he did today when he took his second stage win when the race offered its second uphill finish on a short climb that was pretty similar to the one that had given him the win on stage 2.

 

Apparently Chaves had big plans to attack right from the bottom of the 3.3km climb that led to the finish. Again he used his very strong Orica-GreenEDGE team to make sure that he was in the perfect position to do so as Daryl Impey led the peloton onto the climb with teammate on his wheel.

 

At this point, Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) was the lone survivor of an early break and he was dangling just 20 seconds ahead. However, the steep slopes were taking its toll and as Stephane Rossetto rode hard for Cofidis right from the bottom, he lost ground quickly.

 

Rossetto’s work ended up being the perfect lead-out for Chaves who took off right from the lower slopes and even though Andrey Amador did his best to bring him back, there was an immediate gap. Meanwhile, the peloton exploded to pieces, with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) being one of the riders to lose contact.

 

Chaves sprinted past Cummings who came to a standstill while Giant-Alpecin hit the panic button. Lawson Craddock moved to the front to try to chase the Colombian down but he constantly lost ground

 

As they hit the easier middle section, the gap had gone out to 12 seconds and as Craddock cracked, race leader Tom Dumoulin attacked himself. He simply rode Nairo Quintana off his wheel and the scene was set for a great duel between the two leading riders, with the gap constantly staying around 15 seconds.

 

There was no cooperating in the chase group. Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) and Alberto Losada (Katusha) were the first to try but they were brought back by a Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) who accelerated. They were quick to join Dan Martin when the Irishman made the counterattack but the two Spaniards were quickly dropped.

 

Dario Cataldo (Astana) started to chase for Astana and brought Navarro and Losada back. Instead, it was Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) who took off and he got an immediate gap.

 

Martin caught Dumoulin as they entered the final kilometre and they now started to get closer to Chaves. Meanwhile, the attacking continued in the peloton where Nicolas Roche (Sky) and Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural) both made unsuccessful moves.

 

However, no one was going to catch Chaves who rode strongly to the finish to claim his second stage win. Martin beat Dumoulin in the sprint for second 5 seconds later while Plaza just held off the peloton, crossing the line in the same time as the favourites with a time loss of 11 seconds.

 

With the win, Chaves moves back into the race lead with a 10-seconds advantage over Dumoulin but he already faces another big test tomorrow. Stage 7 is the first big mountain stage of the race as a mostly flat day with just a single category 3 climb ends at the top of a category 1 mountain where the first really big battle between the favourites will take place.

 

An uphill finish

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was back into hillier terrain for stage 6 which brought the riders over 200.3km from Cordoba to an uphill finish at Sierra de Cazorla. After a flat start, the roads gradually got more undulating before the riders hit the bottom of the first category 3 climb with 68km to go. From there, it was mainly descending before the riders got to the final 20km that were all uphill, culminating at the top of a category 3 climb that averaged 6.3% over 3.3km.

 

It was the hottest day yet when the riders gathered for the start under a brutal sun that made temperatures reach more than 35 degrees. David de la Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep) was absent as he finally had to surrender to the pain from his collarbone which he broke in the Tour de Pologne.

 

Lots of attacks

Everybody knew that this could be a day for a successful breakaway so it was no surprise that the stage got off to a very fast start. The first rider to get a significant gap was Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) who attacked at the 4km mark but was brought back three kilometres later.

 

Etixx-QuickStep, Caja Rural, Ag2r and Katusha were very active in the first part of the stage and were part of a seven-rider group that briefly got clear. However, Europcar had missed the move and brought it back together.

 

Chavanel gives it a go

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) made an unsuccessful solo move while Matej Mohoric (Cannondale) got dropped. He got medical assistance but was unable to continue and would later abandon the race.

 

At the 40km mark, no one had managed to escape. It briefly looked like four riders had made it but while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) called for mechanical assistance, the group was caught.

 

The break is formed

The riders covered 48km during the fast first hour and no one had still managed to get clear. An 11-rider group with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was next to try but they had no luck either after they had been reduced to a trio.

 

The riders covered more than 57km before Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), Peter Velits (BMC) and Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) finally took off in the right move. However, Colombia and LottoNL-Jumbo had missed out so they worked hard to bring it back, keeping the gap at around 30 seconds for a while.

 

Rubiano goes down

They lost the battle though and when the gap had gone out to more than a minute, Miguel Angel Rubiano (Colombia) took off in pursuit. Meanwhile, the peloton sat up to catch their breath.

 

Unfortunately, Rubiano hit the deck when he was 1.17 behind the escapees and the peloton was at 2.35. However, the Cololombian got to within 33 seconds before he again started to lose ground. At the end of the second hour, the gaps were 49 seconds and 4.10 respectively.

 

Rubiano makes it across

Impressively, Rubiano made the junction to make it a front sextet. Meanwhile, Giant-Alpecin had taken control of the peloton which was 4.36 behind at the 103km mark.

 

The peloton slowly started to reel the break in and at the end of the third hour, they entered the final 65km with a delay of just 3.50. It had gone out to 4.12 at the bottom of the first climb where Movistar started to work with Giant-Alpecin.

 

Sutherland sets the pace

Rory Sutherland had been given the task to do the early work for Movistar and he slowly started to bring the break back. When Gautier beat Rubiano and Durasek in the KOM sprint, the gap was down to 3.28.

 

Sutherland was trading pulls with Tom Stamsnijder (Giant-Alpecin) as they hit a long descending section and for a long time they kept the gap stable at around 2.30. When Stamsnijder ended his work, Zico Waeytens took over but the chase was not on for real yet.

 

Movistar up the pace

With 25km to go, the fight for position started and it was now time for Movistar to kick into action. They gathered their troops at a point when the gap had come down to 1.45 and with Imanol Erviti taking some huge turns, they had reduced the deficit to 55 seconds with 16km to go.

 

Rubiano led Terpstra and Durasek across the line in the intermediate sprint as they continued to climb up towards the bottom of the final ascent. Meanwhile, the Movistar riders were about to get swarmed by the many teams that gathered their troops near the front.

 

Cummings takes off

Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida) went down in a small crash but was quickly back on his bike while Erviti brought the gap down to 30 seconds. This was the signal for Rubiano to give it a go but it was the counterattack from Cummings that worked.

 

While Terpstra took off in pursuit, the Brit went into time trialling mode and he managed to extend his advantage to 45 seconds when Javier Moreno took over the pace-setting 9km from the finish. The chases were all brought back but a strong Cummings added another 10 seconds to his lead.

 

The gap comes down

In the peloton, several teams had lined out their trains on the front, with Vasil Kiryienka briefly taking control for Sky. The fight for position was intense but Cummings still had an advantage of 50 seconds with 7km to go.

 

As Jose Joaquin Rojas took over the pace-setting for Movistar, th gap started to come down and when Visconti hit the front with 4km to go, it was only 25 seconds. Moments later, the Brit hit the final ascent where the exciting finale unfolded.

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