Slovenian Borut Bozic gave his Vancansoleil team the biggest win of their brief history in stage six’s bunch sprint of the Vuelta a Espana.
Bozic popped out of a completely disorganised peloton in the final kilometres of a fast, technical run-in to win by nearly a bikelength over two much better known riders, American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) and Italy’s Daniele Benatti (Liquigas).
After winning three bunch sprints on the trot, Columbia-HTC could take comfort that their fastman Andre Greipel remains in the lead, even if their main overall contender Kim Kirchen did not start this morning.
But their usual control over the peloton started to disintegrate on a third category climb with about 20 kilometres left to go, when two Columbia-HTC riders, reported to be Michael Albasini and Adam Hansen, had slid out the back on the ascent.
A series of short unclassified climbs then did even more damage to the sprinters’ teams control, with World Champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), then Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) and David Moncoutie (Cofidis) making the most serious attempts to solo to the finish.
All of them were reeled in on a fast descent into Xativa, and a series of dangerous corners combined with some limited work on the front by Liquigas proved enough to ensure that the stage would be in a bunch sprint.
And when Bennati failed to finish off his team’s good work with his fifth Tour of Spain stage win of his career, Bozic blasted away to add a Vuelta victory to a palmares which had a stage of the Tour of Poland this August and a stage of the Tour of Ireland in 2007 as its previous main highlights.
The sprinters fiesta in the Vuelta has now finished in any case, with a medium-length flat individual time trial on Saturday followed by the race’s first summit finish on Sunday in Aitana. It’s time, in other words, for the overall contenders to start making a move.
Vuelta a Espana 2009: Stage six, Xativa-Xativa, 176.8km
1. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil in 4-40-50
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
4. Davide Vigano (Ita) Fuji-Servetto
5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
6. Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
7. Sebastien Chavanel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto
9. Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Columbia-HTC
10. Andre Greipel (Ger) Columbia-HTC all same time.
31. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 9sec
62. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo at 9sec
Overall classification after stage six
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) Columbia-HTC in 24-21-13
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 6sec
3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas at 9sec
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 9sec
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank at 18sec
6. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil at 23sec
7. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas at 27sec
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 27sec
9. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 28sec
10. David Garcia (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia at 33sec
20. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo at 42sec
60. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at1-06
Andre Greipel hangs on to the gold race leader’s jersey after stage six
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four: Greipel wins in Liege
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three: Henderson takes surprise win
Vuelta a Espana 2009, stage three photo gallery, by Graham Watson
Stage two: Ciolek takes first sprint stage, Hammond third
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one: Cancellara wins Vuelta opener
Vuelta a Espana 2009, stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
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