It was a case of deja vu of stage 2 as Esteban Chaves lit up today’s final few kilometres once again, with Tom Dumoulin, Dan Martin and Nico Roche in hot pursuit. But the young Colombian kept his nerve on the steep climb to the finish for another popular victory – and enough time to take the red jersey back after one day in the possession of Dumoulin.
The stage came alive in the final 10km when MTN-Qhubeka’s Steve Cummings, as the last man standing from the day’s six-man break, went for a solo win using a short downhill section to get a heartening advantage on the charging peloton. But the combination of a peloton propelled by both Giant-Alpecin and Orica-GreenEDGE and a very steep finish meant his efforts were in vain.
Perfectly positioned at the foot of the last hurdle by teammate Daryl Impey and sensing that the pack was weary, Chaves shot up the incline like a cork from a bottle of cava, easily overtaking Cummings to take on the final climb solo.
Tom Dumoulin had promised that, despite only have a second advantage, he wouldn’t concede the leader’s jersey lightly and, as good as his word, he set off in pursuit of Chaves but was caught out by the difficulty of the climb and by a charging Dan Martin. But it was too little, too late as the duo were unable to catch Chaves, who took the stage comfortably, crossing the finish line with a huge smile on his face and a red jersey waiting for him, much to the delight of the crowd.
Martin’s effort’s moved him up a spot to third overall, displacing his cousin Nico Roche who slipped to fourth, with Dumoulin ten seconds down in second, who will be keeping Chaves’ combined jersey warm tomorrow.
Smiling post-race, Chaves admitted:
I can’t believe — it’s unbelievable. Today was a really long stage. I had really good legs. I’m really happy, and I want to say again — the team is amazing. It’s like a family, this team.
Rider of the stage
The day’s break only formed after 75km of hard racing under a scorching sun. The initial five were joined by Miguel Angel Rubiano (Colombia), adjudged most combative on the day. With the gap, which never went much above four minutes, down to 30 seconds, Rubiano attacked. MTN’s Steve Cummings countered with 10.5km to go and went straight past Rubiano, only to be subsequently overtaken by the stage winner with just over 2km remaining.
— Team MTN-Qhubeka (@TeamMTNQhubeka) 27 Août 2015
It was a brave attack and as Cummings said after the stage:
It was a good effort. You just have to try. I’m hunting for a stage [win] and I’ll try again in a few days.
I’m sure you will! Meanwhile, Cummings can console himself with being VeloVoices’ Rider of today’s stage.
Three things we observed
1. Orica-GreenEDGE are having a fantastic Vuelta. Three stage wins and at various points this week holding all the jerseys, it doesn’t get much better than this from the team who specialise in lighting up the first week of grand tours. Directeur sportif Neil Stevens was happy to admit that today’s plan was just to keep Chaves up in contention. However, teammate Matt Hayman had told Chaves that if he had good legs today, he should try to win the stage “because you never know what’ll happen tomorrow” – wise words!
— Vuelta a España (@lavuelta) 27 Août 2015
2. Peter Sagan’s sense of humour. In his daily chat with Eurosport presenters Ashley House and Juan Antonio Flecha, Peter admitted that it was way too hot for him today. So hot in fact that just minutes after getting a bidon full of cold water, it had turned to tea. Better that than wine, Peter!
3. Synchronised tractor display team. I’m just back from a few days at the Vuelta where signage, civic displays and advertising about the event might best be described as discreet. So it was great to see a bunch of local tractors form a large display of the type more commonly seen at the Tour de France.
Stage 6 results
1. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) 04:46:16
2. Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) +0:05
3. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) same time
4. Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) +0:11
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) same time
1. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) +21:55:13
2. Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin) +0:10
3. Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) +0:33
4. Nico Roche (Team Sky) +0:36
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:49
6. Dani Moreno (Katusha) +0:51
7. Chris Froome (Team Sky) +0:55
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) +0:56
9. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +0:57
10. Fabio Aru (Astana) +1:8
Points leader: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo)
King of the Mountains leader: Omar Fraile (Caja Rural)
Combined classification leader: Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE)
Team classification leader: Team Sky
Link: Official race website
Header image: © Javier Belver