VUELTA: Stage 6 – Sagan Wins in Liquigas show of strength

Liquigas dominate finale in a show of strength with Peter Sagan winning but Nibili fails to take advantage and Chavanel still leads. Bradley Wiggins finishes in the peloton with teammate Chris Froome.


An attack in the last kilometre by the Liquigas team including defending Vuelta champion Vincenzo Nibali caught out the rest of the peloton as the Italian team launched Peter Sagan to victory ahead of Movistar’s Pablo Lastra. While the impressive display by Liquias saw them put four riders in the top five, almost 20 seconds clear of the rest, they did fail in getting Nibali to take the bonus seconds on offer as he finished 4th. This meant Sylvain Chavanel who finished 10th at 17 seconds held on to the leader’s jersey for another day.

The win by the Slovak champion Peter Sagan was his first victory in a Grand Tour. The move was initiated by GC contender Vincenzo Nibali with 11 km to go on the final descent towards the finish line. Sagan jumped on his captain’s wheel and was followed by Agnoli, Capecchi and Lastras (Movistar). The manoeuvre blew the peloton apart and created a gap. Despite attempts to chase them down, no one could catch the Liquigas train and while the Movistar rider gave them a good race for the stage, Sagan was equal to the challenge.

Agnoli crossed the line in third place (due to a misunderstanding with his team captain) with Nibali fourth and Capecchi fifth.

“Today’s result is a double success as we won the stage and helped Vincenzo gain some precious seconds on the general classification” said Peter Sagan. “We managed to create an incredible situation with an unplanned move. When we realised that the riders behind us couldn’t match our pace on the descent we just went even faster. My first thought in the final sprint was to help Nibali by trying to open the gap with Lastras and create the chance for Vincenzo to solo over the line. But when the Spaniard surged to get past us, I countered his attack to take the sprint: I didn’t want the team to miss the chance of winning.”

Today’s win for Sagan (his twelfth this season) comes hot on the heels of an extremely positive period. “The Tour of Poland gave me condition and confidence” he explains. “I suffered more than I’d wanted from the heat in the initial stages and so I never know what to expect in this race. I’m over the moon with the win but the real goal is to get to Madrid and thereby improve my fitness.”

Sagan is confident about Nibali’s chances of retaining his Vuelta title. “Vincenzo is a champion and we’re a close-knit group as well as a team. He proved today that he’s got the determination and strength and we want to support him.”

Chavanel looking for the temperature to cool down…

Race leader Chavanel talked about his race saying “Today’s stage was a super fast one. After 30 kilometres I ended up in a break with 24 riders, due to the continuous attacks. On the Alto del Catorce por ciento, I tried to stay alert and in the first positions in the peloton. I knew that the descent could have created some gaps so I stayed near the front. However the guys from Liquigas really pulled a number on the descent and I lost a few seconds. Overall it was a good day. Tomorrow, if there are no surprises, I should be able to hang on to the jersey on a stage suited to the sprinters. I only hope it’s not as hot as it was today and that for at least one day we can all catch our breath. From the very first day here at the Vuelta it’s been a battle.”

BMC’s Kohler Most Aggressive
Martin Kohler of the BMC Racing Team earned the Vuelta a España’s most aggressive rider honors Thursday while teammate Mathias Frank survived a crash and Johann Tschopp withdrew due to fatigue.

Kohler said it won’t be the last time. Kohler was part of a four-man breakaway that gained as much as an eight-minute lead. With the gap to the chasing pack down to a minute and only 31 kilometers left in the 193.4 km race, Kohler ventured off alone. He was caught five kilometers later.

“I was trying the whole day to make the breakaway,” he said. “Unfortunately, we were only four riders and not the strongest ones from the peloton. But it’s a three-week race and there are more days to come. So it won’t be the last time I’m in the breakaway.” Frank crashed after 70 kilometers when an official motorbike couldn’t make a sharp right turn. “I went down on my hip and elbow and it hurt pretty bad at the beginning, but as I kept riding, it got better,” Frank said.

Wiggins and Froome continue to challenge for the overall

In what remained of the peloton (46 riders) at 23 seconds, was Britain’s Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome and continue to ride high in the overall standings as the race approaches the end of the first week. With still four stages before the riders get a rest day, stage 7 maybe as close as they on the rolling roads which may play into the hands of a break or the sprinters. The fight on GC may well have wait until stage 8, or more probably 9 and the mountain top finish.

One rider who won’t be in those battles ahead will be Kurt-Asle Arvesen who was forced to abandon the Tour of Spain following his crash 24 hours earlier. Arvesen was a key rider, a leader on the road for Team Sky, riding in his final Grand Tour before retiring at the end of the season. Talking afterwards to the Team Sky website he said “I didn’t break anything and last night my left knee was feeling okay. It felt worse this morning though and it was a fight all day once I’d got on the bike.

“The stage was difficult and they rode hard for the first 50km. I was fighting to stay on but got dropped initially, managed to get back on, and then was dropped again. There was a lot of sympathy and support for me from the other riders in the peloton, and even in the caravan with the other cars. They all knew what happened yesterday and were willing me to finish. I thought for a moment that I could do it, but it came to a point where couldn’t carry on after about 130km or so. I just couldn’t pedal any more. My left leg completely shut down and I think I was only able to finish the stage yesterday because of the adrenaline.”

1. SAGAN, Peter    LIQ    4h 38′ 22”
2. LASTRAS, Pablo    MOV
3. AGNOLI, Valerio    LIQ
4. NIBALI, Vincenzo    LIQ
5. CAPECCHI, Eros    LIQ    + 3”
6. FUGLSANG, Jakob    LEO    + 17”
7. RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin    KAT    + 17”
8. BRUSEGHIN, Marzio    MOV    + 17”
9. MONCOUTIE, David    COF    + 17”
10. CHAVANEL, Sylvain    QST    + 17′

24. WIGGINS, Bradley    SKY    + 23”
34. FROOME, Christopher    SKY    + 23”
37. MARTIN, Daniel    GRM    + 23”
64. POSSONI, Morris    SKY    + 2′ 19”
65. LÖVKVIST, Thomas    SKY    + 2′ 19”
159. STANNARD, Ian    SKY    + 17′ 32”

1. CHAVANEL, Sylvain    QST    22h 41′ 13”
2. MORENO, Daniel    KAT    + 15”
3. NIBALI, Vincenzo    LIQ    + 16”
4. RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin    KAT    + 23”
5. FUGLSANG, Jakob    LEO    + 25”
6. KESSIAKOFF, Fredrik    AST    + 41”
7. MONFORT, Maxime    LEO    + 44”
8. VAN DEN BROECK, Jurgen    OLO    + 49”
9. PARDILLA, Sergio    MOV    + 49”
10.  BRUSEGHIN, Marzio    MOV    + 52”

21. FROOME, Christopher    SKY    + 1′ 26”
22. WIGGINS, Bradley    SKY    + 1′ 26”
24. MARTIN, Daniel    GRM    + 1′ 50”
25. ROCHE, Nicolas    ALM    + 1′ 53”

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