La Vuelta (st. 6)
/ Today’s route
It’s not the Tourmalet; it isn’t the ‘Super Sunday’ we all hoped for in June, either (Roubaix was cancelled earlier this month); yet it remained a mountain-top finish in La Vuelta. Formigal (Cat-1), with its 14km of climbing through irregular slopes (maximum 9%), was the finish after 146km that also featured the ascents to Petralba (Cat-3; climbing through the final descent to Sabiñánigo from Saturday) and Cotefablo (Cat-2).
/ Weather report
There were southerly winds again today, yet despite this could have brought milder temperatures and better weather, it was a demanding day. 12ºC maximum at the start in Biescas, 5ºC at the top of Formigal and some rainy spells.
/ Keys to the race
- After quite a hard battle in the peloton as they approached the circuit around Sabiñánigo, a 23-rider group was able to leave the peloton behind after 25km, with two from the Movistar Team: local hero Jorge Arcas and Carlos Verona. It was a strong breakaway, including a GC threat with Gorka Izagirre (AST) -3’37” down on ‘La Roja’-, which Jumbo-Visma tried to keep always within fourminutes’ reach.
- The conditions got significantly harder at the Cotefablo climb, with showers putting several riders in difficulty. Under those circumstances, and with Gorka Izagirre (AST) attacking ahead of the breakaway, the Movistar Team took command in the peloton with Oliveira, Rojas and even Arcas and Verona -who had dropped back from the break- in the approach to Formigal. At one of those sections, race leader Roglic and team-mate Sepp Kuss (TJV) briefly lost contact.
- At the final climb, Marc Soler and Alejandro Valverde attacked twice and the Catalan was able to create a gap ahead into a first echelon of favourites containing Carthy (EF1), Gaudu (GFC) and new ‘La Roja’ holder Carapaz (IGD). The four put about 45″ on a second group anticipated by Martin (ISN) and where Roglic and Enric Mas finished together, with Alejandro Valverde just behind. A slight reshuffle to the GC saw Mas now placing 5th, 1’07” behind the lead; Soler in 7th, 1’42” down; and Valverde in 10th, at three minutes.
Enric Mas (courtesy Unipublic): “My feelings after today? At this moment, it feels so cold. It’s been a hard day, one that we won’t easily forget in many years. Fortunately, we haven’t felt that cold during the race: we were full-gas all day, and we’ve only felt it at the finish. The end result has been alright, the whole team has reacted well during the race and we’ve even been able to enjoy this one!”
/ Upcoming goals
Following a really long transfer to Vitoria this very Sunday evening, and the first rest day in La Vuelta on Monday, riders will be back in action with Tuesday’s stage seven (it sounds funny to have a single-digit stage after a rest day, not counting post-international depart transfers, in a Grand Tour!). It will be a 160km route with a double ascent to Orduña (Cat-1; 7.8km at 7.7%) into a circuit around Villanueva de Valdegovía, with a slightly uphill finish.
Weather report (c): Photo Gomez Sport