61st Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 26-September 17, 2006
Results & report
Stage 6 - August 31: Zamora - León, 177 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Shane Stokes
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
The race hits the windy plains across
central Spain to Leon. It's a flat stage, but the hairdryer winds at this time
of year can wreak havoc with the peloton. Smart GC riders will stay close to
the front in case the race splits into echelons. German Marcel Wüst is the only
rider who has won this stage twice and compatriot Erik Zabel will be looking
to match his record after winning here in 2001.
Welcome to our live coverage of today's
stage, a sprinters' special between Leon and Zamora. There are no climbs today,
but there are two intermediate sprints at Villarín De Campos (km 34) and Mansilla
De Las Mulas (km 156.5). And it's another sunny day...
14:39 CEST 52km/125km to go
It's been a fairly
routine sort of a stage so far. 183 riders signed on with Freddy Bichot, Christophe
Detilloux (both Française des Jeux) and Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) non
starters after missing yesterday's time cut.
The flag dropped and
Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom) attacked immediately. He was caught by Benoît
Poilvet (CA) and Olivier Kaisen (Davitamon), but they could not get clear of
the peloton. Beneteau was in action again at km 7, this time going away in a
group of six with Xabier Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Kevin Hulsmans
(Quick Step-Innergetic), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis), Jérémy Roy (Française
des Jeux) and Aaron Kemps (Astana Team). That didn't last long, but Bouygues
finally got a man away when Mathieu Claude attacked at km 10, and wasn't chased.
Claude increased his lead, covering 42.9 km in the first hour and building up
a maximum 10'55 advantage at that point. This has since dropped to 9'32. Claude
naturally won the first sprint at Villarín De Campos (km 34), with Francisco
Ventoso (Saunier Duval) taking second ahead of points leader Thor Hushovd (CA).
14:49 CEST 60km/117km to go
Claude has now covered
60 km, and keeps his sub-10 minute advantage over the peloton, which won't be
interested in chasing him just yet. A lone rider is much easier to catch than
14:57 CEST 68km/109km to go
Milram has lost a
rider as Volodymyr Dyudya has abandoned. There are now 182 riders in the race.
Dyudya was lying in 176th overall, so obviously wasn't having an easy time of
it. The heat, as usual, has knocked everyone around.
15:09 CEST 75km/102km to go
the 100 km to go mark, and is maintaining 9'34 over the peloton, where Milram
and Liquigas are working.
15:24 CEST 86km/91km to go
The average speed
in the second hour has been a little slower, as is usual. Claude has covered
41.5 km in that time, all on his own. The profile of the stage is ever so slightly
uphill too, with the finish 200m higher than the start.
What's the difference between chasing
down one rider and chasing down more than one, in a flat stage like this? I
think that we would come up with a better theory than the rule of thumb "1 minute
per 10 km", which normally applies when the peloton is chasing a small group,
but not too hard.
Any ideas? Bueller? Anyone?
15:32 CEST 91km/86km to go
While we ponder possible
theories, the peloton has reached the feed zone 9'40 behind the lone leader
16:01 CEST 114km/63km to go
Milram, Saunier Duval
and Quick Step have upped the tempo, and that has spelled doom for Mr Claude
out in front. His advantage has fallen to 6'40.
16:04 CEST 120km/57km to go
Claude is bravely
riding ahead of the bunch across the flat, brown plains, but his lead is shrinking
fast. It's now just 5'20.
Some rules of thumb from our readers:
Greg writes that the rule for one rider is simply "He will be caught with 11
km to go".
Onno and Steve reckons that it's one minute per 7 km.
My own theory is more complex, and
almost certainly unnecessarily so. Substituting riders for electrons in the
Born-Oppenheimer approximation for a quantum chemical bike race, we can probably
get away with applying second order Møller-Plesset perturbation theory. In this
case, the solution is trivial, as there is only one rider ahead of a bunch of
181, which we can consider as one unit. The peloton's wavefunction is much bigger
and uglier than Claude's, so the two will eventually collapse into each other
between 0-30 km to go. i.e. we know he'll be caught, but we don't want to say
exactly when because it will violate the uncertainty principle. That would be
If there is more than one rider in front, then the problem becomes
more complex. The solution is left as an exercise to the reader.
Sorry, it's the heat.
16:13 CEST 119km/58km to go
Saunier Duval, Liquigas, CSC and Credit Agricole are combining in their efforts
to chase down Mathieu Claude, who has been away since km 10.
the factors to be considered:
Wind speed and direction
of the stage
Length of stage
Distance remaining to be traveled
These factors must be multiplied by the following additional factors:
Grand tour effect
Urgency to rider's sponsor
Elevation of remaining
Speed of lone rider
Speed of peloton
together and you get WILD GUESS.
16:17 CEST 122km/55km to go
The average is still
brisk at 42 km/h after three hours, and it will only get quicker as the bunch
is doing 45-50 km/h. Poor ol' Claude is coming back fairly quickly, as his lead
is now just 3'58.
16:20 CEST 127km/50km to go
Claude looks across
at the time board carried on the race moto, which reads 3'45. He looks to be
riding in a 53x15 gear, maintaining 42 clicks per hour. The bunch is going quicker
than that, for sure.
No sightings of any wildlife in this arid landscape
16:22 CEST 130km/47km to go
Claude gets cheered
on by a few fans breaking their siesta as he rides through Valencia De Don Juan
with 3'18 over the peloton. Race leader Danilo Di Luca chats to a Lampre rider,
then calls for a bit of an easing in the chase for a mass toilet stop. Valverde
and many others follow suit. They can afford it.
16:26 CEST 132km/45km to go
Di Luca is back on
the bike and eating something, as he rejoins the peloton, which now passes through
Valencia De Don Juan.
Mathieu Claude shifts up a gear as he gets
out on the open road.
16:28 CEST 134km/43km to go
The mass toilet break
has given Claude another 40 seconds. The lead was as low as 3'10, went up to
3'50, and is now coming back down. CSC is also riding, for Sastre and also for
O'Grady, who has been consistent in the sprints.
16:31 CEST 136km/41km to go
Claude rides through
Fresno De La Vega, blink and you'll miss it. He's suffering now, and there are
little fjords of salt encrusted on his jersey.
16:36 CEST 138km/39km to go
At least there are
more towns in this bit. Claude rides through Gigoso De Los Oteros now.
Lampre, Saunier, Liquigas and Credit Agricole are chasing. Liquigas has the
most riders, of course, protecting Di Luca. Astana is also prominent near the
front, protecting Kashechkin.
16:40 CEST 141km/36km to go
Mathieu Claude continues
his attempt at a 167 km solo time trial. He now has three minutes lead over
the bunch, which doesn't look like it's going to slow down much now.
John has found another thing to be
taken into account when considering the time to catch a lone rider: "Don't forget
to factor in the length of time in days until the expiration of the rider's
contract. I'm sure there is an inverse relationship of the effort of the rider
in relation to the number of days left on his contract."
16:46 CEST 144km/33km to go
2'30 now between
the peloton and Mathieu Claude. He will make it inside 30 km to go, thereby
not disproving the MP theory proposed a few updates back. Phew, scientific cred
16:48 CEST 146km/31km to go
The gap reduces further:
it's now 2'13 as Liquigas wind it up in the bunch.
16:51 CEST 150km/27km to go
Claude enters and
exits Villanueva De Las Manzanas with around two minutes. He's going to need
more than that.
16:53 CEST 152km/25km to go
Liquigas has started
to work harder - not only for Di Luca, but also for Bäckstedt and Paolini. The
gap is just 1'23 to the leader.
I got my Dons mixed up before, sorry.
16:55 CEST 153km/24km to go
Claude rides through
Villacelama, trying to keep his speed up. He's done well on his own, but having
a bunch of 181 riders 44 seconds behind you is not exactly good odds. There's
an intermediate sprint in 4 km...
16:56 CEST 155km/22km to go
Martinez is back at the team car, getting bidons.
Claude has just
half a minute and the peloton can see him just ahead.
16:57 CEST 156km/21km to go
Astana and CSC are
working now, probably to try and gain some bonus seconds for their leaders.
The sprint at Mansilla De Las Mulas is getting close...
16:59 CEST 157km/20km to go
Claude can't hang
on until the sprint as Saunier Duval leads out Ventoso for the points. It wasn't
even much of a sprint.
17:00 CEST 158km/19km to go
CSC takes over again
with three riders ahead of Sastre and O'Grady. Better safe than sorry.
17:02 CEST 159km/18km to go
Olivier Kaisen (Davitamon)
chooses an appropriate moment to attack. He is joined by a Lampre rider - Enrico
17:03 CEST 162km/15km to go
The two put 10 seconds
into the bunch, which is not chasing hard at the moment. Di Luca tells his Liquigas
boys to let these two ride for a bit.
17:05 CEST 163km/14km to go
The big Davitamon
motor, Olivier Kaisen, is powering along with Franzoi on his wheel. They get
to 22 seconds.
17:07 CEST 164km/13km to go
Franzoi finally does
a turn and the pair get 25 seconds on the peloton.
17:09 CEST 166km/11km to go
The speed in the
bunch has lifted again, courtesy of Credit Agricole. Hushovd's men keep the
gap to 24 seconds. One Milram and a number of Liquigas riders are ready to help.
17:10 CEST 167km/10km to go
out over his machine, pedaling a biggish gear and looking strong. Franzoi holds
his wheel - he's definitely doing the mouse's share of the work.
17:11 CEST 168km/9km to go
Kaisen does what he
does best - time trials. He finally pulls off and lets Franzoi have a go. The
compact cyclo-crosser comes through for a short turn. The peloton is 17 seconds
back at 9 km to go.
17:13 CEST 169km/8km to go
Eight clicks left
in the bike race, and the sprinters teams are gearing up for the big finish.
Paolo Bettini sits in last wheel, maybe not contesting it today. You never know
17:14 CEST 170km/7km to go
Bodrogi and Caucchioli
do their turns, then Liquigas takes over again with the two riders just 5 seconds
17:14 CEST 170.5km/6.5km to go
Jose Vicente Garcia
Acosta signals to Liquigas to take it easy, but it's academic now as Kaisen
and Franzoi have sat up. Break over with 6.5 km to go.
17:15 CEST 171km/6km to go
The bunch rides past
a large Volvo dealer and there is another counter attack. A T-Mobile, Cofidis
and Bouygues rider get clear.
17:16 CEST 172km/5km to go
It's Stephan Schreck
(T-Mob), Fred Bessy (Cofidis) and Anthony Geslin (Bouygues). The three have
a good cooperation.
The descend into Leon and Liquigas
pushes the pace behind. The three leaders won't get much advantage. Nope. They
are caught. At nearly 90 km/h.
17:18 CEST 173km/4km to go
The pace slows to
80 km/h as they fly under 4 km to go, with the green Liquigas men in front.
Leon is approaching very fast. Say hello to Leon.
17:19 CEST 174km/3km to go
3 km to go and It's
Liquigas and Milram. The boys in blue have six men for Zabel, but now Cancellara
brings up O'Grady.
17:19 CEST 175km/2km to go
Cancellara drops off
O'Grady next to Zabel, who is behind Petacchi it looks like. Or is Petacchi
going for it today? Could be.
The bunch snakes into the final 2
km, into the heart of Leon. Five Milrams left in front. Velo leads Ongarato,
Petacchi and Zabel. Millar brings Ventoso up.
17:20 CEST 176km/1km to go
Final kilometre and
Millar has disrupted the Milram train with a massive turn. But that might put
Ventoso in front too early?
Millar leads until 600m -massive
job there. Then Milram takes over.
Two more for Zabel. As Tosatto starts
but goes nowhere. Petacchi goes for it...
17:22 CEST 177km/0km to go
But it's Hushovd on
the left side who gets it from Greipel and Zabel!!! Petacchi almost...but ends
Petacchi hit out on the right but
Greipel came up the middle with Hushovd and Zabel on his wheel. Hushovd fairly
easily got around the German on the left to take his first Vuelta stage win,
and strengthen his lead in the points classification. Nice sprint!
No changes to GC, and Di Luca keeps the gold jersey.
Thor crossed the line at 59 km/h,
which means it must have been a headwind or slightly uphill. These guys can
go over 70 km/h when the conditions are right.
That will be all from
us today from the live Vuelta. Please join in the fun again tomorrow for stage
7 between León and Alto de El Morredero (Ponferrada).
1 André Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 4.09.10
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
4 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Team Milram
5 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Française des Jeux
7 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas
8 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC
9 Alexandre Usov (Blr) AG2R Prevoyance
10 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
General classification after stage 6
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas 22.47.11
2 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.04
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana Team 0.18
4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 0.29
5 José Ange Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 0.35
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 0.36
7 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.55
8 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.58
9 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) T-Mobile Team 1.00
10 Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.04
Back to top