Pieter Weening spent nearly 150 kilometers in a five-rider breakaway on the sixth stage of the Vuelta a España. The move gained a maximum advantage of 4:15 in the second half the stage before the field’s relentless chase closed the gap ahead of the final two climbs.
“Pieter took the initiative to get into the break,” said Sports Director Neil Stephens. “This was good for us because on paper today’s stage wasn’t ideal for any of our riders. Simon Clarke would probably have been most suited to this type of finish, but we didn’t put many expectations on him after the work he did on Tuesday.”
Race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) had vocally stated his interest in winning today’s stage. His team took control of the race from kilometer zero.
“Katusha rode hard all day,” noted Stephens. “Movistar and Saxo contributed to the chase, too. It was clear that there was a lot of interest in the summit finish today.”
With the overall contenders making their intentions clear as the escape group closed in on the final two climbs, the pace proved too much for several in the break and one by one the riders fell off pace. Weening was the second to last of the five to rejoin the bunch, 16 kilometers from the mountaintop finish. Rodriguez would go on to win the stage, padding his race lead with both bonus seconds and time gaps on the line.
Both Daniel Teklehaimanot and Mitch Docker were involved in what Stephens deemed ‘minor crashes’ today. Neither rider had too much trouble rejoining the bunch following their falls.
“They were involved in two separate, fairly simple crashes – of no real consequence in the end,” said Stephens. “As of now, neither is complaining of any injuries and hopefully it will stay that way.”
Clarke started the day in the polka dot jersey after moving into the mountain classification lead following his win on stage four. He’ll start stage seven with a six point lead in the classification over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).