Stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana was a wet and wild one for the race ending on the mist-shrouded slopes of the Formigal. Astana’s Ion Izagirre won from a mega breakaway, assisted by his brother Gorka. The GC group fractured mightily on the final ramp with leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo) unable to stay with his attackers. Ineos’s Richard Carapaz moved into red on a day that smashed the GC into smithereens.
How did it all go down?
The day started with a breakaway. A breakaway so big and full of firepower that it had too many names to tweet!
But let’s look at some of the names: Remi Cavagna (DQS) was the man that got the ball rolling. He had yesterday’s nearly man Guillaume Martin in there with two Cofidis teammates. Add in Michael Valgren (NTT), Michael Woods (EF), Rui Costa (UAE) and the Izagirre brothers from Astana and it was a break with infinite possibilities.
The filthy weather played into the break’s hands. It was one of those stages where you can’t see which teams are riding, never mind individual race numbers as the peloton hid inside cosy black jackets as the rain fell.
With 30 kilometres to go, it was Gorka Izagirre who got things interesting, he made a move that quickly earned him a good gap. The rest of the break had to up the pace while Ion could sit back. If helping reel in your teammate is bad form, reeling in your brother is a punishable offence.
Gorka was duly caught. By the time the group hit the slopes of the Formigal, it seemed like someone from the front group would win the stage given the advantage over the peloton. It’s was Ion’s turn to go for it Izagirre-style and thanks to Gorka’s softening up of the break he soon had all the advantage he needed. With 2 kilometres to go, he was 17 seconds ahead of his one-time companions and soloed on to take the stage by 25 seconds.
The Spaniard has now won a stage at all three grand tours although this feat might not get the same kind of headlines that Peter Sagan got when he joined the club a couple of weeks ago.
Ion said after the race:
“It’s fantastic to be a winner on each of the grand tours. With the rest day tomorrow, it was a day when we could go for it. The breakaway contained many great riders. Luckily, I was there with Gorka which was a good advantage. In the end, I maintained my power and delivered”
GC hit and hope
As the younger Izagirre was powering towards the finish line a furious assault on the GC was occurring further down the slope.
First of all, some of those riders who were sitting a bit further down on GC had some digs, hoping they’d given a bit of freedom to make up a few seconds. The likes of Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) got away with minimal reaction from leader Primoz Roglic or his Jumbo teammates.
This sounded a big action klaxon for those closer to Roglic on GC and off they went too. In the course of the climb Richard Carapaz (Ineos), Marc Soler (Movistar), Dan Martin (Israel SN) and Hugh Carthy (EF) all got ahead of Roglic, who had no answer to the attacks.
In the final 500 metres, Hugh Carthy gave it a huge dig to surge clear of Carapaz and ended up winning the “race of the GC”. Roglic came in 20th on the stage, fifty seconds after Carthy.
The Ecuadorian takes over the red jersey as race leader, Hugh Carthy climbs into second and Dan Martin keeps his podium place but drops to third.
It won’t all be celebrations at the Ineos hotel tonight. Carapaz may have moved into red but he didn’t look invincibly strong on the final slopes. One pink guy, in particular, may be giving him concerns.
Here’s a tweet I bet no one thought they’d be writing this morning:
Here it is again, just to prove it happened:
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the TV equipment
I’ll be honest here, there’s a little guesswork in everything I’ve written above. It was one of those stages where the weather played havoc with the TV pictures with regular blackouts then cutting to a curious CGI hill!
How the race was lost?
Primoz Roglic is one of the best bike riders in the world, but this look is just a hot mess
The last word
With the tense Giro finale and this spicy Spanish stage there was a lot of cycling going on! Today was the last double race day of the season. Tomorrow we take a break.
The final word?
At the time of typing those problems seem to be mounting.
Stage 6 results
1 Ion Izagirre (Astana) 3:41:00
2 Michael Woods (EF off) +0:25
3 Rui Costa (UAE) same time
4 Robert Power (Sunweb) +0:27
5 Michael Valgren (NTT) same time
GC Top 10
1 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) 24:34:39 (up 2 places)
2 Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) +0:18 (up 3)
3 Dan Martin (Israel Start Up) +0:20 (down 1)
4 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) +0:30 (down 3)
5 Enric Mas (Movistar) +1:07 (down 1)
6 Felix Grossschartner (Bora – hansgrohe) +1:30 (up 1)
7 Marc Soler (Movistar) +1:42 (up 2)
8 Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) +2:02 (no change)
9 David De La Cruz (UAE) +2:46 (up 3)
10 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +3:00 (up 1)
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)
Points jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
King of the Mountains Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal)
Best Young Rider Enric Mas (Movistar)
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Official race website: Vuelta a Espana
Header: ©GETTY / Velo / David Ramos