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2010 Vuelta a España News and Updates: Stage 6

| by Sports Nickel
Stage 6 – Caravaca de la Cruz to Murcia – 151.0 km (93.6 mi)

Thursday/02 September 2010

 

This was the sort of stage which seemed to be tailor-made for a rider like Thor Hushovd. The Norwegian powerhouse has been the one sprinter of his generation who is able to hang consistently with the punchier classics specialists and climbers when the roads ramp up. Mind you, Hushovd is never going to be a contender for the general classification — once we hit the truly-high peaks later in the race, Thor will be right there alongside Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar and the rest sucking wind and trying to stay within the time limit to prevent elimination. But when it comes to those short, steep, punchy climbs such as one sees in the spring classics throughout Belgium, the Netherlands and France, Hushovd is among the best at keeping his position near the front of the peloton and carving out wins for himself.

The sprinters which survived the Alto de la Cresta del Gallo had no answer for Norwegian champion Thor Hushovd on the finish line in Murcia...

That’s exactly how today’s stage went, as the start in Caravaca de la Cruz sloped downhill and provided the perfect platform for a breakaway to form. Thus it was that Markus Eichler (Milram) was soon caught by Freddy Bichot (BBox Bouygues Telecom) and Juan Javier Estrada (Andalucia Cajasur), and the trio built up a lead that topped out over the 9-minute mark after about 40 kilometers. The bloated gap seemed to reawaken the peloton, as Cofidis (for KOM contender David Moncoutie) drifted to the front and turned on the afterburners. Minute after minute melted away like so much butter under a blowtorch. Through the town of Abarán, twenty kilometers further down the road from their maximum advantage, the lead trio had lost over four minutes of their lead and were dangling precariously off the front like a rabbit at a greyhound track.

But with the gap down to four minutes, the peloton seemed content to hang back and allow the breakaway a little more time at the front. Cofidis, apparently worn out after their massive pull at the front, drifted off into the pack and allowed the gap to stabilize at around four minutes. With the sole climb of the day, the 2nd-category Alto de la Cresta del Gallo, reaching its summit just 17.4 kilometers from the finish line in Murcia, the field waited its moment to pull back the breakaway completely. As the climb neared, the time differential shrank more and more as the teams in the peloton geared up with dreams of setting up one of their climbers or classics guys or GC contenders for a stage victory or better positioning on their rivals. By the time the three leaders reached the base of the climb, all but 75 seconds of their lead had evaporated.

The breakaway was caught easily on the slopes of the Cresta del Gallo, swept up one by one as the field charged right past. Vladimir Karpets, race leader Philippe Gilbert and Andy Schleck were the first three over the summit, but it was Dmitry Fofonov (Astana) who tried in vain to solo away on the descent. He built up a maximum advantage of less than fifteen seconds, never far enough from the field to seriously entertain visions of a victory. With the peloton still numbering over forty riders, there was simply too much horsepower to gap his way to the finish line. Within eight kilometers to the end, Fofonov was swept up unceremoniously. He would not be spit out the back, though, able to cling to the front group and finish a respectable 15th overall in Murcia.

Instead of Cavendish versus Farrar, the duel we saw yesterday into Lorca, sprint fans were treated to Hushovd versus Philippe Gilbert instead. The Norwegian champion and the current leader of the Vuelta were duking it out for the stage win, Gilbert already having taken Stage 3 and hungry for more while Hushovd wanted to earn his third career Vuelta stage. Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) were also mixing it up, as were Allan Davis and Peter Velits and Grega Bole. Those sprinters who had made it with the peloton at the front of the race were treated to a wide-open flat finish that allowed anyone to step up and take charge. But after putting in the massive effort to stay at the front, there was no way that Hushovd was going to allow this one to slip from his grasp.

Still outside of the top ten in the points classification despite his win, Hushovd seems unconcerned with leader’s jerseys. Instead the Norwegian seems laser-focused on honing his form and capturing a few stages ahead of the world championships. For the sprinters, donning the rainbow jersey for an entire season far outweighs even the green jersey at the Tour de France — much less the one handed out to points leaders at the Vuelta. But it was a spectacular victory nonetheless, showing us after a lackluster Tour that Hushovd indeed still has as much power in his beefy legs as ever…

STAGE 6 RESULTS

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1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo Test Team 3:36:20  
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
3 Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
4 Allan Davis (Aus) Astana    
5 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha    
6 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
7 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia    
8 Pablo Urtasun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne    
10 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale    

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 22:36:26  
2 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:10  
3 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha    
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:12  
5 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:16  
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:29  
7 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:00:49  
8 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:50  
9 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:00:54  
10 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:55  

POINTS CLASSIFICATION

1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 47 pts
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions 41  
3 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 41  
4 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC-Columbia 36  
5 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 34  
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 34  
7 Koldo Fernandez De Larrea (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 30  
8 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ 29  
9 Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini 28  
10 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 26  

KING OF THE MOUNTAINS

1 Serafin Martinez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 13 pts
2 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step 8  
3 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne 6  
4 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 5  
5 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha 5  
6 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram 5  
7 Egoï Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 5  
8 Sergio Carrasco (Spa) Andalucia-Cajasur 5  
9 Mickael Delage (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto 3  
10 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 3  

TEAM CLASSIFICATION

1 Caisse D’Epargne 67:23:12  
2 Team Katusha 0:01:05  
3 Omega Pharma – Lotto 0:01:18  
4 Team HTC – Columbia 0:01:48  
5 Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:56  
6 Cervelo Test Team 0:04:36  
7 Liquigas – Doimo 0:04:50  
8 AG2R – La Mondiale 0:07:19  
9 Xacobeo Galicia 0:08:15  
10 Lampre – Farese Vini 0:08:32  

2010 Vuelta a España – Stage 6 News and Notes is a post originally from: SportsNickel.com - In Sports We Trust

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