60th Vuelta a España - GT
Spain, August 27-September 18, 2005
Results & report
Stage 6 - Thursday, September 1: Cuenca-Valdelinares, 217 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hernan Alvarez
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews' online dirigible
for our live coverage of the 6th stage of the Vuelta a España. Today is the
toughest stage so far, although there's going to be a lot more of this in the
coming weeks. Starting in Cuenca, the riders will travel 217 km before the finish
at the Aramon Valdelinares ski station. This is a Category 1 climb (1980 meters
above sea level) that will test the main candidates for the overall like Roberto
Heras (Liberty Seguros-Würth), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Carlos Sastre
(CSC) or Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
The stage has three intermediate
sprints: Villalba de la Sierra (km 19.3), Puebla
de Valverde (km 171.8)
and Virgen de la Vega (km 206). And apart from Valdelinares, there are three
climbs: Cat. 3 Alto de la Ciudad Encantada (1310 m.), Cat. 2 Puerto El Cubillo
(1630 m.) and Cat. 2 Alto de San Rafael (1580 m./km 203.2).
for the climbers to shine and for the sprinters to rest today.
The race leader Brad McGee (FDJ)
was upbeat this morning, and relatively confident of maintaining his golden
jersey, which he has worn since finishing second on stage 2. He also said that
he is targeting the time trial stage in Lloret de Mar as one that he wants to
It has been a fairly animated stage
so far. Yesterday's stage winner Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) didn't sign
on, but he did start the stage. He'll get a fine for doing that.
After a 3.2 km neutral zone through Cuenca, the stage started at 11:48am. The
flurry of early attacks saw Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) get clear after 5 km, causing
a split in the bunch with 40 riders in the lead. However, it was chased down
by Liberty Seguros. After 15 km, Koos Moerenhout (Davitamon-Lotto), Stijn Devolder
(Discovery), Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears) and Guido
Trenti (Quick.Step) got a gap that they extended out to half a minute, which
they held until the first sprint at Villalba de la Sierra (km 19), won by Lastras
from Voeckler and Moerenhout.
The first climb of the day started
shortly after the sprint, and Voeckler had to let go on the Cat. 3 Alto de la
Ciudad Encantada. Lastras crossed the summit first ahead of Moerenhout, Devolder
and Trenti. They were pursued by Angel Vicioso and Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty),
Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) and Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) at 12 seconds, with
the bunch at 30 seconds. The two quartets merged to form a group of eight in
front, but after 43 km, Comunidad Valenciana had brought the peloton back to
them. Simone Cadamuro (Domina Vacanze) abandoned at this point.
first hour was raced at 46 km/h.
After 50 km, a group of 16 riders
went clear, and at the top of the Cat. 2 Alto El Cubillo (km 66), it was David
Cañada (Saunier Duval) leading Jakob Piil (Team CSC), Jose Miguel Elias (Relax
Fuenlabrada), Eladio Jimenez (Comunidad Valenciana) and Anthony Charteau (Bouygues
Telecom) over the top. Luca Solari (Domina Vacanze) abandoned the race at this
One of the breakaways was Eric Leblacher (CA), who was also
in yesterday's move. He rode solo for a while at km 70, before he was reabsorbed
by the break. Illes Balears was leading the first part of the peloton at 1'15,
with a second group chasing at another 40 seconds. Ludovic Auger (Française
des Jeux) retired at km 76, followed by his teammate Bernhard Eisel at km 123,
leaving McGee with two fewer helpers.
The Illes Balears led chase
group caught the 16 breakaways after 87 km, but leader McGee was in the second
group at this stage, one minute behind and chasing. Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto)
took advantage of the confusion to attack the front group, and although McGee's
group joined the front in the feed zone at km 103, a new breakaway had established
Unai Yus Kerejeta (Bouygues Telecom), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi),
Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Michael Barry (Discovery Channel), Marcos Serrano
(Liberty Seguros), Pablo Lastras and José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears),
Mario Aerts (Davitamon - Lotto), Juan Manuel Fuentes (Lampre - Caffita), Marco
Velo (Fassa Bortolo), Devis Miorin (Liquigas-Bianchi), Linus Gerdemann (Team
CSC), Kevin De Weert (Quick Step). Yus is the best placed rider on GC in 5th
After 118 km, the advantage to the 13 leaders was 1'45,
but the 13 became 12 at km 124 when Lastras dropped off. The race then hit the
wind and immediately broke up into several echelons. Most of the favourites
have made it to the front echelon, although McGee has again missed the cut.
15:00 CEST 143km/74km to go
Lastras is absorbed
by the peloton, which is now 30 seconds behind the leading 12. McGee had another
hard chase to stay in contact. It's not going to be his day today.
The breakaway is caught after km 136.
Worse news for Floyd Landis
(Phonak). The American has decided to abandon after 138 km, just as the race
splits up and reforms again.
15:10 CEST 148km/69km to go
The peloton continues
its advance towards the final climb, and Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Comunidad
Valenciana) has a go. He was the main attacker in stage 3, when he snuck off
the front after 70 km of 153, and wasn't seen again until 25 km to go. Let's
see if this move has any more success.
15:19 CEST 155km/62km to go
Rodriguez is caught
by 22 riders, and we now have the following group leading by 24 seconds:
Giampaolo Caruso, Isidro Nozal Vega and Angel Vicioso Arcos (Liberty Seguros),
Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak), José Vicente Garcia Acosta, José Ivan
Gutierrez Palacios and Aitor Osa Eizaguirre (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne),
Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues), Eladio Jimenez Sanchez and Javier Pascual Rodriguez
(Comunidad Valenciana), Eric Leblacher and Benoît Poilvet (Crédit Agricole),
Koos Moerenhout (Davitamon - Lotto), Leif Hoste and Benoît Joachim (Discovery
Channel), Julian Sanchez Pimienta (Fassa Bortolo), Juan Manuel Fuentes (Lampre
- Caffita), Devis Miorin (Liquigas - Bianchi), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank),
David De La Fuente and Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez (Saunier Duval - Prodir),
Nicki Sørensen (Team CSC), and Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile).
15:29 CEST 158km/59km to go
The situation changes
as the lead group grows to 36 riders, but now Koos Moerenhout (Davitamon-Lotto)
has a half minute gap over this group.
15:39 CEST 160km/57km to go
Moerenhout is still
out in front, but now leads a group of just five riders by 32 seconds: Jakob
Piil (CSC), Eric Leblacher (Crédit Agricole), Benoît Joachim (Discovery), Nacor
Burgos (Relax), Devis Miorin (Liquigas). The peloton has caught the rest of
the big group.
15:46 CEST 167km/50km to go
Moerenhout, who started
the day only 2'36 behind on general classification, now leads the chasing quintet
by 25 seconds. But the peloton is at 2'53, making Moerenhout the virtual leader
on the road.
Piil's presence in the chasing group is impressive too,
as the Dane also spent most of the day out in front yesterday.
15:55 CEST 179km/38km to go
Moerenhout has been
joined by the five chasers, and that's going to help him. He's still the virtual
leader on the road.
At the sprint in Puebla de Valverde, Miorin crossed
first ahead of Piil and Burgos.
The latest gap is 3'46 to the peloton.
Moerenhout has been very active all day, and this isn't the first time he's
Torsten Schmidt (Gerolsteiner) has
abandoned, the sixth rider to do so.
16:00 CEST 184km/33km to go
The peloton is not
really chasing hard at the moment, and is reasonably bunched as it descends
into Valbona. It's not too hot today, but still around the 29 degree mark. The
sky is overcast again.
Juan Antonio Flecha has a mechanical problem,
but is going again. He crashed yesterday and is bandaged up now.
16:03 CEST 186km/31km to go
The pace is still
relaxed in the bunch. The leaders have a real chance now, although the final
climb is going to be tough.
16:05 CEST 188km/29km to go
Like Piil, Leblacher
was also in the break yesterday. The Frenchman is going well.
Balears and Comunidad Valenciana are starting to ride a bit, as the gap reaches
The average speed after four hours is 42.5 km/h.
16:13 CEST 192km/25km to go
is taking the responsibility to chase the six leaders. Interestingly, Davitamon-Lotto
has put a few riders up there to maybe spoil the chase a bit.
has made it back to the bunch.
The gap is up to 6'05 as the peloton
starts to accelerate. But the kilometres are counting down very quickly now,
and the last climb is not that long: 9 km at an average of 6.2%, with a maximum
16:17 CEST 194km/23km to go
The peloton rides
through Mora De Rubielos, over some cobbles and past some ancient looking buildings.
Pascual Rodriguez is now doing the chasing for Comunidad Valenciana. The gap
comes back down to 5'25.
16:20 CEST 196km/21km to go
The leaders are on
the Cat. 2 Alto de San Rafael now, with a five minute plus advantage over the
16:23 CEST 197km/20km to go
The Comunidad boys
are putting the hurt on the bunch, but not too hard yet.
Joachim, Piil, Moerenhout, and Leblacher attack one by one. Burgos and Miorin
have problems following.
Piil rides up to Joachim and checks
behind - they've gapped the others at the moment.
16:25 CEST 198km/19km to go
McGee is already
suffering on this climb, and is a fair way back in the peloton. He looks a bit
unkempt today. The gap comes down to 4'22.
16:28 CEST 198km/19km to go
Now the peloton is
stringing out, courtesy of Comunidad Valenciana. They have a few riders who
could win today - maybe one of the Quesadas or Eladio Jimenez.
peloton is split into two, but McGee is still with the front group...just. These
climbs can be tough, because you have to do them in the big chainring at a relatively
high speed. At least with a steep climb, you don't feel as guilty when you drop
off the peloton.
Piil and Joachim have under 4'00 now on the bunch.
They are joined by Leblacher.
16:30 CEST 201km/16km to go
Liberty moves its
men up to the front, and Joaquin Rodriguez gets ready too. The three leaders
have reached a flatter part of the climb.
16:32 CEST 202km/15km to go
McGee has glued himself
to Angel Casero's wheel, trying to survive the pace on the San Rafael. It's
flattening out a bit now.
Piil, Leblacher and Joachim are near the
summit, keeping their four minute gap. Piil is the leader on the road now, as
he started the day at 3'01. No sign of Moerenhout.
16:34 CEST 202km/15km to go
The Alto de San Rafael
is nearly over, and Benoît Joachim for one will be happy. He follows Piil as
the slightly built Dane does another turn.
continues its relentless work in front of the peloton, but the gap to the leaders
is still 4'00 or so.
The peloton is riding at 30-35 km/h
on a flatter part of this climb, but it's still definitely uphill. Iñigo Cuesta
(Saunier Duval) looks pretty comfy near the front, just behind the green train.
16:38 CEST 203km/14km to go
Bettini looks pretty
settled at the back of the peloton. Hopefully he didn't lose too much sleep
after Quick.Step cooked up the finish of yesterday's stage.
climb gets steeper and Piil gets out of the saddle, making Joachim and Leblacher
suffer. Piil takes the points ahead of Joachim and Leblacher.
bunch goes under 15 km to go at 3'50.
16:39 CEST 204km/13km to go
A short descent now,
then the last climb up to Valdelinares. The three leaders have a decent chance
of staying clear.
Two Discovery riders have moved up to the front
of the bunch, maybe to keep an eye on things.
16:40 CEST 205km/12km to go
The descent is not
too technical and the speed picks up.
Michael Barry takes over in
front of the peloton. They probably don't believe in Joachim's chances today.
Nacor Burgos is caught. Five total left in front.
16:42 CEST 206km/11km to go
a corner and stacks it into a barrier. Fortunately, it's padded. He went down
hard on his behind. Ouch. Joachim was behind him and had to go the other way
to avoid it. Piil is now alone in front.
McGee has been dropped,
just near the top of the climb. One more to go.
16:43 CEST 208km/9km to go
McGee takes the descent
as fast as he can, getting a very aero position to try to regain the bunch.
He doesn't have to pedal, at least.
Piil is not hanging around as
he reaches the foot of the final climb with 9 km to go.
The peloton is riding through Virgen
De La Vega 3'19 behind Jakob Piil, and the leading rider almost misses the same
corner that Leblacher did. McGee is back on.
16:45 CEST 209km/8km to go
Illes Balears has
a couple of men in front as the bunch flies through 10 km to go. But Piil is
at 8 km to go, and finding the last climb getting steeper.
16:46 CEST 209.5km/7.5km to go
Nozal takes over
in the peloton, and McGee is shelled immediately. He swings over to the right,
and gets into cruise mode. Five days in gold ain't bad though.
It's Baranowski in front, not Nozal.
Mikel Pradera pulls off, his work done.
16:48 CEST 210km/7km to go
Baranowski is followed
by Osa, U. and another Balears rider. Then a couple of T-Mobiles, including
Sevilla. The high speed has got the bunch in one long line.
Jimenez is dropped, having done his work earlier.
Baranowski (Liberty) continues to
hammer under the 8 km to go banner, really making life tough for everyone. But
Piil still has 3'08!
Bettini drops off.
16:50 CEST 211km/6km to go
The red jersey of
Joaquin Rodriguez moves up as Baranowski is joined by teammate Angel Vicioso.
And Roberto Heras... Menchov moves up too.
Angel Casero is dropped.
Beloki does a turn on the front now.
He has Heras on his wheel, and suddenly the peloton gets very small. Good work
Aitor Gonzalez is dropped.
Piil is going well, reaching the
6 km to go banner with 2'25. It may not be enough, unfortunately for the Dane.
Serrano takes over from Beloki. Piepoli is dropped. There's damage being done
by the Liberty boys today.
16:54 CEST 212km/5km to go
The peloton is down
to 25 riders as Serrano and Vicioso drive it with Heras on their wheels. Simoni
is dropped. The bunch is down to maybe 15 riders. Menchov is hanging on, as
is J. Rodriguez. Could he be the new leader today?
hanging...no he's not. He's off the back of the main group. Sevilla accelerates
to get up to the front. Luis Perez is there, as is Mancebo.
is dropped, just. He's bearing the signs of a crash.
Leblacher and Joachim are caught,
leaving Piil 1'53 in front. Joaquin Rodriguez is dropped with Marcos Serrano.
Well, maybe not his day.
16:57 CEST 213km/4km to go
Rodriguez and Serrano
pass Leblacher as the chase group gets to 5 km. They're dropping like flies
now. Sevilla is gone.
In the first chase group behind Piil: Heras,
Scarponi, Sastre, Menchov, Garcia Quesada, Mercado, Blanco, Mancebo.
The pace is savage, courtesy of Scarponi
in front. Mancebo is really fighting to hang on. That's a lot of pain showing
in his face.
Menchov and Heras look great, and Sastre is good too.
They go under 4 km to go at 1'17 behind Piil.
17:00 CEST 214km/3km to go
Piil now gets to 3
km left, but just has 1'07 left. He hasn't exploded, but the pace behind is
too high for him to stay away. Scarponi has done a great job for Heras.
17:01 CEST 215km/2km to go
Heras winds it up
as it gets steeper. The others react. Mancebo is dropped, as is Scarponi. Pretty
much everyone actually, except for Menchov.
17:03 CEST 215km/2km to go
It's now Heras (Liberty),
Menchov (Rabobank) and Garcia Quesada (Comunidad) chasing Jakob Piil. The rest
of the group is blown to bits. Blanco is the next rider behind these three.
Piil has 20 seconds of his lead left. He might be told to sit up to help Sastre.
Garcia Quesada is dropped again. Just as Piil gets caught at 2km to go.
Menchov hasn't done a turn yet, but
Heras is putting the hurt on him. Menchov has 15 seconds advantage on Heras
on GC - one of these two will take the jersey today.
17:05 CEST 215.5km/1.5km to go
It gets steeper
at 1.5 km to go. Heras changes down a few gears.
The two Comunidad
riders are together: Blanco and Garcia Quesada.
Menchov is dropped!
17:06 CEST 216km/1km to go
Heras is an amazing
climber. He looked so comfortable most of the way and rode the others off his
wheel, one by one. Menchov is at 10 seconds with 1 km to go. The jersey will
be Heras's. Probably.
Heras powers to the finish with a
good gap over prologue winner Denis Menchov, who has also impressed today. But
he's not a pure climber like Roberto Heras.
17:09 CEST 217km/0km to go
Heras wins the stage,
riding hard all the way to the finish. Menchov is second at 12 seconds, then
Blanco at 26 seconds, then Carlos Garcia at 41 seconds. Mancebo, Mercado, and
Sastre are next, followed by Piil. Scarponi and Serrano aren't too far behind
Danielson comes in with Simoni and
a small group at 1'39.
As Heras is presented with a gigantic
leg of ham(?) (just the thing after a 217 km mountain stage), we leave you at
the end of stage 6. Heras has taken over the leadership of the race and was
extremely impressive today. No-one can stay with this guy when he's on song.
He's also the mountains and combination leader.
We'll be back tomorrow
with Stage 7. Until then!
1 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 5.27.20
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.13
3 David Blanco Rodiguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 0.28
4 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 0.42
5 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic 0.49
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC
8 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 0.52
9 Marcos Antonio Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 1.15
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team
General classification after stage 6
1 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 23.42.13
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.06
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.01
4 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir 1.03
5 David Blanco Rodiguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 1.05
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 1.20
7 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 1.33
8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step - Innergetic
9 Unai Yus Kerejeta (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team 1.52
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