Vuelta a España (st. 6)
Portuguese all-rounder from Movistar Team fights until very end for stage win as Jesús Herrada (COF) succeeds ahead of new race leader Teuns (TBM). Quintana -now in 5th overall-, Valverde (7th), Soler all into reduced GC group.
Jesús Herrada (COF) crowned in Ares del Maestrat a demanding, fast-paced breakaway on stage six of La Vuelta, over 199km from Mora de Rubielos, in Teruel province, to the Castellón mountains, where Dylan Teuns (TBM) took over the red jersey as the peloton took no risks and decided to give ‘La Roja’ away.
Nelson Oliveira (Movistar Team) completed a great performance into an 11-man breakaway which started to really split at the penultimate climb, Culla (Cat-3), with a solo attack from Ethiopia’s Tsgabu Grmay (MTS). To his wheel came, after an excellent descent, the Portuguese from the Telefónica-backed squad, who took strong turns later on to leave the pursuit well behind before the steepest slopes of Ares. Oliveira later tried to hang on against the strong finish from Herrada and Teuns, eventually losing contact with 2km to go and taking 7th, 45″ down. In turn, the Blues’ leaders, Nairo Quintana -now in 5th overall, +1’23”- and Valverde -7th, +1’28”-, finished into a GC group also containing Marc Soler.
The series of mountain stages in eastern Spain in this year’s La Vuelta will end on Friday, with a very interesting 183km from Onda to the Mas de la Costa (Cat-1), a brutal ‘wall’ with 4km at 12.3% average gradient. The Salto del Caballo (Cat-2) will also be a lumpy appetizer, its top 22km from the end.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“A really fast stage. It was crazy into the early climbs, and you could tell it by the fact we were only 50, maybe 60 riders left at the front after the first two ascents. We had Nelson ahead, trying to contest the win from the break, and we let it go so he could chase that victory he really deserves. In the end, a GC lead change, too. Any problems with Nairo? Not at all – that’s something people wants to create around us. They’ve got no idea about what goes on at the team bus. There’s 0% of a problem with him. A good chance tomorrow? We’ll see, we’ll see. The breakaway might stick again, but it’s a different stage to today’s, especially because the start is quite less demanding. I want to send my support to everyone who crashed today; the big pile-up was into a very dangerous turn.”
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport