Jumbo-Visma dominates in the 6th stage of La Vuelta a España 2023
Crazy stage in which the Iberian System in the terrain of the province of Teruel led to a very numerous cut that could become a feared breakaway and that produced a furious pace and a tremendous wear that took its toll in the final ascent to the Pico del Buitre.
Evenepoel and Mas show signs of weakening as Jumbo-Visma grows
We were talking yesterday about the bland start of La Vuelta a España 2023 and, in the second contact with the mountains, after the appetizer of Andorra, the peloton gave us a tremendous stage that could have turned the race upside down and left us the first major confrontation between the contenders to win the race.
A stage that started at a frenetic pace, between Vall d'Uixó and the Pico del Buitre that crowns the Sierra de Javalambre next to the Astrophysical Observatory that is located at this point. A stage practically identical to the one faced by La Vuelta in 2019 although with a very different outcome.
We already announced that probably, being the first week and not being a final climb of very large entity, it would be a stage for a breakaway of those of many carats. But surely none of us expected this level and the mess that ensued.
From the early stages the race was a string of attacks to try to get into the good break of the day, with tremendous tension on those typical mountain roads, narrow, twisty, without a flat meter. Among so many nerves, another illustrious abandonment in the figure of Jay Vine who went to the ground, apparently fracturing an arm and leaving without one of its main players the UAE Team Emirates of Ayuso and Almeida.
Finally a gigantic break of no less than 40 units was consolidated where Jumbo-Visma managed to filter half of the team with the presence of Sepp Kuss, Jan Tratnik, Attila Valter and Dylan van Baarle. This leading group included other cyclists of recognized quality as Marc Soler, Santiago Buitrago, Wout Poels, Mikel Landa, Lennard Kamna, Hugh Carthy, Rui Costa, Oier Lazkano or Romain Bardet. The best placed, the until today 3rd overall Lenny Martinez was only 17'' behind the red jersey.
Practically all the teams were represented except INEOS-Grenadiers, which was in the back. The whole stage ahead and no one willing to work to control the breakaway. INEOS played poker and the breakaway began to gain an advantage, which threatened to turn it into the typical breakaway that ends with the overall in the hands of the most unexpected rider. If not, tell that to Óscar Pereiro.
Finally, with more than 6 minutes to their credit, fear began to spread in the teams of the leaders who collaborated to bring the breakaway to more manageable figures. A situation that, with the unrelenting terrain of the mountains of Teruel, reduced the peloton in the final third of the stage to its minimum expression.
Finally, at the foot of the final climb to Javalambre that seemed to be contained with a disadvantage of around 3 minutes, although it was clear that the stage and the leadership would be for those in front and it remained to wait how such a hard day could condition the outcome of the stage.
In the lead Einer Rubio tried to repeat his performance of the Giro d'Italia but no, it was the top favorite among those who were in the lead who launched a strong attack 4 kilometers from the conclusion that no one was able to respond. We are talking about a brilliant Sepp Kuss who we are used to see in winning mode but when he takes off his working overalls he is a real luxury cyclist. His was the stage victory in an unappealable way. He entered just 26 seconds behind, fighting to lose as little as possible with Kuss a formidable Lenny Martinez who thus achieved the prize of taking the red jersey to lead the general classification.
It was time to look back at the peloton and see what the big names in the race had to offer. And who unleashed the hostilities, 5 kilometers from the conclusion was none other than Primoz Roglic, who removed the doubts that had arisen after not entering the Andorra stage in a finish that seemed perfect for him. And it happened something similar to what we saw in the Giro d'Italia with Remco Evenepoel who gave up in an alarming way given the distance remaining to the finish.
Behind him came a huge Enric Mas, following his diesel style, at a crushing pace, and next to him Jonas Vingegaard and Juan Ayuso. The Mallorcan redoubled the effort to close the gap with Roglic, which made Ayuso give in, forming a new trio with the two leaders of Jumbo-Visma and the Movistar rider.
However, already in the last kilometer the efforts began to take their toll. Vingegaard pushed the pace without attacking and took Roglic on his wheel while Enric Mas dropped off. Meanwhile, Remco Evenepoel found his rhythm and began to reduce the gap and, when no one expected it, an inhuman Juan Ayuso recovered from his moment of crisis and climbed like a missile to almost catch the two Jumbo-Visma riders on the finish line. On the contrary, Mas was slowing down and was almost caught by Remco. In any case, barely half a minute's difference between the two riders is not decisive and is no more than the consequence of the very hard and beautiful stage that we have been able to enjoy.
Stage 6 Classification
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 4h27’29’’
- Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) +26’’
- Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich) +31’’
- Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) +46’’
- Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) +46’’
- Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) +1’03’’
- Einer Rubio (Movistar Team) +1’05’’
- Cristian Rodríguez (Arkéa Samsic) +1’12’’
- Steff Cras (TotalEnergies) +1’12’’
- Jefferson Cepeda (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) +1’26’’
- Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) 21h40’35’’
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +08’’
- Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates) +51’’
- Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) +01’41’’
- Steff Cras (TotalEnergies) +01’48’’
- Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) +01’58’’
- Jefferson Cepeda (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) +02’06’’
- David de la Cruz (Astana) +02’23’’
- Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) +02’47’’
- Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +02’50’’