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62nd Vuelta a España - GT

Spain, September 1-23, 2007

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Stage 6 - September 6: Reinosa - Logroño, 184.3km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST

14:59 CEST    75km/109.3km to go
Viva la Vuelta! The Vuelta a España has kicked into its crazy escape days, and Cyclingnews is here to bring you the live action. After a day of attacks being snuffed, today's stage six sees four riders romping. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r Prévoyance), José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur), Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) had over eight minutes (at km 37) in had at one point. They are now leading with only 5'30".

Today should be a day for the GC favourites to take it easy, and focus their mental energies on the weekend time trail to come, while the sprinters will be geeing to jam down the roads from Reinosa to Logroño. Only a feed-zone and small, un-classified climbs will face our escape group on the 184.3-kilometre run where at the end we should see the sprinters reign.

15:06 CEST    77km/107.3km to go
Our escape of four got its start at kilometre 8.

Looking down at the dashboard of our Seat Ibiza 1.2 we see a reading of 26°C. It is a nice day for bike racing here in northern Spain. Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC) will agree. He has just passed his family who has come out to cheer on the Burgos-born rider. Cuesta is allowed the freedom to go up the road, greet his family and is now back with the pack.

15:10 CEST   
There's another birthday boy in the peloton today: Dmitri Champion, a neo-pro with Bouygues Telecom has turned 24 -- and what a great name he has for a professional athlete!

15:20 CEST    85km/99.3km to go
We have passed two hours of racing. The average so far is 39.6 kilometres per hour. It is a little slower than yesterday when every try of freedom by the riders was quashed.

We are getting glimpses of your Russian Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) in his maillot oro. He is looking sharp and confident, and likely thinking of the weekend. A time trial and tough mountain stage are waiting.

The gap has grown a little; it now stands at 5'55" at 80 kilometres into affairs.

Some of you wrote in asking about the French group Phoenix. We recommended their 2006 release, It's Never Been Like That. It is nice music. Today, in the Seat 1.2, we are mostly listing to the race radio, okay, and some Paolo Nutini.

15:24 CEST   
"What podium do you expect in the Vuelta?" a reader (Joost) has asked. We are not betting, but we say 1) Sastre, 2) Menchov and 3) Evans. It is time the Vuelta returns to the hands of a home winner. Mister Consistency, Sastre, has the experience to go manage himself over the three weeks of this Grand Tour.

Zabel for the sprint?
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

15:27 CEST    87km/97.3km to go
Ukraine's Denis Trubetskoy wrote an e-mail with his pick for today's stage: Erik Zabel. "I think, today is another chance for Zabel. In my opinion, Alessandro Petacchi won't have good legs today and Team Milram's [best] bet for today is Erik."

The gap had grown, and now stands at 6'40".

15:40 CEST    100km/84.3km to go
Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) has a mechanical. He and Tim Klinger (Gerolsteiner) have stopped, and are now working their way back to the peloton. We are not sure what kind of problems they had.

The escape of four has passed through feed-zone (km 90). The gap is still at 6'45". The boys are taking on food. They are riding no-hands but being vigilant of the side-winds. If they are to make this day's move work they will need all the energy they can take onboard.

The sprinters' teams are going to let the four dangle out front until the right moment. Then, 'SMACK!' The big men that form the trains of Boonen, Freire and Bennati will crank the speed to an intolerable pace. Riders will get shelled from the gruppo, and our escape will be disintegrated.

Il Grillo - Paolo Bettini
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

15:51 CEST   
Vincenzo from Rome writes, "In my opinion, today could be Paolo Bettini's day." Yes, we agree, it is a stage for Il Grillo Livornese. He needs to send another strong signal to National DS Franco Ballerini that he is on form for the World Championships, September 30. He will likely be a co-captain with Danilo Di Luca for road race. Cunego had a set back with the crash in the Vuelta's first stage.

16:04 CEST    114km/70.3km to go
The gap is at 6'20". Milram and Lampre are pumping up the pace for their sprinters, Petacchi and Bennati.

16:09 CEST   
Magnus Backstedt is looking sharp in his blue and yellow Swedish national jersey.

We have pulled the Seat 1.2 over and clocked the riders; the peloton is travelling some five kilometres per hour faster than the front four.

16:11 CEST   
The gruppo is lined down the right side of the road. Some of the men are getting spit out the back.

We see Evans looking cool as a cucumber in the gruppo.

16:14 CEST    124km/60.3km to go
Francesco Chicchi of Liquigas touched the barriers and met the pavement. He is shaken and stirred. He is back on his feet, looking for the team car and a new Cannondale machine.

16:16 CEST   
The four leaders are rotating in a counter-clockwise motion. The Ag2r Prévoyance car pulls up to service Yuriy Krivtsov.

The peloton is storming along at 70 km/h!

16:18 CEST   
We have read some great e-mails from you today! Thanks for writing in and letting us know your thoughts.

16:22 CEST   
Echelon time! The wind is coming hard from the left and echelons are forming. This is tricky riding tactics that only the Belgians seems to be good at. There are about three big echelons formed from the main gruppo. The riders have to be careful that the gap does not open up too much between the echelons or it can be hasta mañana for the riders in the back echelons.

16:24 CEST   
There are 183 riders left in this race. Here are the riders who left the 62nd Vuelta.
Stage 1 DNF - Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel
Stage 3 DNF - Mathieu Claude (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 4 DNS - Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) T-Mobile
Stage 5 DNS - Sergio Paulinho (Por) Discovery Channel
Stage 5 DNF - Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Stage 5 DNF - Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Crédit Agricole

16:32 CEST    140km/44.3km to go
We are running mostly south. The four escapees are humping along under some shade trees. They must feel the heat of the peloton coming one. Lampre, Milram and Quick.Step are putting their coals on the chase fire.

The four pass through Haro. A small town with lots of fans along the side of the road. The echelons have finished but there is a group of 20 that is trying to chase back on to the main field.

16:33 CEST    143.3km/41km to go
The peloton is now in Haro, which means the gap is falling quickly. A Milram rider leads. He passes though the town at 2'54" after the front four.

16:37 CEST   
The riders of this peloton are acrobats on their machines. Dodging, jumping and skirting traffic furniture.

Up front Big Magnus Backstedt is getting serviced by the Liquigas Car. José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur) rides at the back of the four-man crew.

16:37 CEST   
Bettini charges off the front of the group!

16:38 CEST   
He is so slick in his all white kit that is adorned by the five colours that form the World Championships rainbow. He seems to be simply stretching his legs.

16:41 CEST   
David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir) suffers a flat tire! Bad timing for the aggressive rider. We say aggressive because he was voted the most aggressive rider of the 2006 Tour de France. Remember the kid? He held on to the mountains jersey for a spot during the French Grand Tour.

Martin Müller (Milram) is pumping it at the front of the gruppo for Signor Petacchi.

16:46 CEST   
Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital) is working with his team-mates for the benefit of Daniele Bennati. Franzoi loves the road but he also enjoys the trails of cyclo-cross. He will be shifting from the pavement to the dirt later this year. A goal of his would be to win the World Championships in his home country, this coming January. For more on him read Going the distance.

16:49 CEST   
This is one of the last races for Backstedt in the Liquigas acid green colours. He will be in the stream soon. he is going to Vaughters' Slipstream team starting with 2008.

16:52 CEST    155km/29.3km to go
The group is in single file now. The pace is extremely high. We see a great Toro overlooking the road.

Sastre is inspired by the Toro, and he moves towards the front.

16:53 CEST   
The finish town, Logroño, borders the Basque country, but is a couple of kilometres into Spain. It's got a couple of big cycling clubs and is the capital of the La Rioja region, well known for its wine.

16:56 CEST   
Freire is wearing the dark red jersey of points winner. He will be aiming for his fourth World Championships at the end of this month. No one has ever won four World Championships.

16:57 CEST   
For the latest on Johan Bruyneel, read our news article form today, Rumours true says Bruyneel: "I am talking to Astana".

The Discovery Channel manager, who had just returned from the Vuelta a España and was preparing to go to a race in the USA, explained that "Yes, there have been many rumours around that Astana has contacted me; saying that I was seen flying back and forth to Kazakhstan. That is not true, but I have been contacted directly by the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation, and we are currently talking about [Team] Astana. The Kazakhstan Cycling Federation contacted me last year as well regarding the Astana team but of course I was with Discovery at the time."

17:00 CEST   
José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur) is one big bloke! He is pumping along on his Orbea machine. You might have heard of that bike, it is made in the Basque country, and used by the Basque team of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

17:00 CEST    162km/22.3km to go
The gap is 1'47" is the current gap.

17:04 CEST   
These roads are as smooth as butter. Sort of a black, hard, butter, but smooth, nonetheless! Big Backstedt leads his three partners on a slight downhill.

17:08 CEST    163km/21.3km to go
Milram has the scent of the escapees. The blue milk men are going to close down the escape at any moment.

17:09 CEST   
Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) is suffering up a small riser. He is fighting his way back up to Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) and Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r Prévoyance).

17:10 CEST    171km/13.3km to go
José Antonio López (Andalucia-Cayasur) has been gapped off, and he will be joined by the group at any moment.

17:13 CEST    172.3km/12km to go
Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r Prévoyance), Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) keep pushing it along. Backstedt is so huge! We wonder what type of machine he will ride next year. Currently Slipstream is on Felt bikes (we think).

The gap is 58" at 12 kilometres to go.

17:16 CEST   
The boys have been spinning their legs for four hours and 10 minutes. What a demanding day. The sprinters will be gearing up for a shot-out on the streets of Logroño. Bennati will be the man to watch today. The rider from Arezzo is showing smoking form lately.

The three escapees are rotating counter-clockwise on the left side of the road. The wind must be coming from the left as the peloton is also lined down the left.

17:19 CEST    175.3km/9km to go
Yes, Slipstream are on Felt this year and will be for 2008. The team has a contract for 2008. There was speculation that maybe Trek would take over, but Slipstream said no, and that there was an existing deal to be honoured.

17:20 CEST   
The bull which can been seen looming on the hillside in Spain. Once upon a time (1980's) they were billboards for Veterano Cognac. However, when Spain outlawed billboards on national roads in the early 1990's, the bulls were to be taken down. The Spaniards protested, as the lone bull towering along the roadside had become a national symbol. After much toiling, the bulls were painted black and left to guard the hillside.

17:20 CEST    177.3km/7km to go
Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) and the rest are caught! Gruppo compatto at seven kilometres to go.

17:21 CEST   
T-Mobile is adding juice to the sprint blender. The magenta mixes well with the blues of Quick.Step, Lampre and Milram. The Germany-based team will be working for André Greipel.

17:22 CEST   
60km/h is the pace! Bettini is up there.

17:23 CEST   
T-Mobile have dedicated about five men to this sprint.

17:23 CEST   
The fans are lining the road here in this red wine town. We have pulled over the Seat 1.2 to better concentrate on this finale.

17:24 CEST   
Four T-Mobiles followed by Milram's men.

17:24 CEST    181.3km/3km to go
There are nice big, sweeping roads here that lead into town.

17:24 CEST   
Lampre seem to have faded.

17:25 CEST   
This town lacks the special feel with its big roads. T-Mobile is hammering along!

17:25 CEST   
Quick.Step and Milram are taking over. Adios T-Mobile!

17:25 CEST    182.3km/2km to go
Milram has control.

17:26 CEST   
Bettini is in sixth spot. Zabel is leading Ale-Jet Petacchi.

17:26 CEST    183.3km/1km to go
Davis is up there but without team support.

17:26 CEST   
800 metres, there is three Milrams. Freire is there too.

17:27 CEST   
Boonen is right behind Davis

17:27 CEST   
Davis is looking good.

17:27 CEST   
The Aussie goes too early!

17:27 CEST   
Freire and Petacchi battle it out. Head to head sprint...

17:27 CEST   
It looks like another one for the Spaniard.

17:29 CEST   
Freire gets it! Boonen is on the far left. Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) gets second with André Korff (T-Mobile) in third.

Davis went too early, but it was better than leaving it late and getting boxed out.

17:29 CEST   
The three time World Champ gets his third 2007 Vuelta win.

17:30 CEST   
Thanks for joining Cyclingnews on our live coverage. Please join us again tomorrow.

Provisional results

1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2 Koldo Fernández (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
3 André Korff (Ger) T-Mobile
4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step - Innergetic
5 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Crédit Agricole
6 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram
7 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom
8 André Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile
9 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
10 Rene Mandri (Est) Ag2r Prévoyance

General classification after stage 6

1 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne

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