Jesús Herrada avenges his brother’s loss
One day after his brother and team-mate José was left disappointed in his quest for a stage win, Jesús Herrada made amends with victory on stage six.
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Having formed part of the day’s 11-man breakaway, Herrada jumped clear with Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) to set off in pursuit of Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) and Tsgabu Grmay (Mitchelton-Scott) in the final few kilometres.
Teuns was the ideal breakaway companion for the Spaniard. With a chance of becoming the new overall race leader, Teuns was more worried about maintaining a sufficient gap over the peloton than he was with winning the stage, allowing Herrada to sit in his wheel and conserve energy.
With a few hundred metres to go, Herrada at last put his nose to the wind to jump clear, and won the stage by a comfortable margin of seven seconds.
It was the highlight ride of what has already been an impressive season for Herrada, which has seen him win the Tour of Luxembourg and the inaugural Mont Ventoux Classic, as well as third overall at the Tour of Oman.
Dylan Teuns takes the red jersey
Although Herrada comfortably out-sprinted him for the stage win, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) will be delighted with his day’s work after becoming the race’s new overall leader.
It became clear that Miguel Ángel López’s red jersey was up for grabs when Astana and the other GC teams opted not to commit to chasing the break down, with the calculation made that none of the riders in the break were potential threats in the overall classification.
Despite this, claiming the jersey was no straightforward task for Teuns. Also in the break was David de la Cruz ( Team Ineos), who, at eight seconds ahead of Teuns on GC, lay in pole position to move into the overall lead.
Teuns played a smart race, however, leaving De la Cruz to tire himself out doing much of the pace-setting, before dropping him with an attack ahead of the final uphill to the finish.
The Belgian’s stint as overall leader may not last more than one day, with a tough category one climb closing stage seven and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) at just one minute behind him, but he’s sure to dig deep in an attempt to defend the jersey.
Crash causes several high-profile abandonments
What had been a relatively benign start to the Vuelta in terms of crashes took a turn for the worse, as a total of four riders were forced to abandon after a mass pile-up.
Among the unfortunate quartet was former race leader Nicolas Roche (Sunweb). Although he lost the red jersey the day before after two successful days defending it, Roche had looked poised to continue to animate the Vuelta after another strong showing on the race’s first mountain-top finish kept him in the top-10 overall, before the crash.
Another high profile victim was Rigoberto Urán, who had been sixth overall and could even have still been considered a potential overall winner. It was a terrible day in general for EF Education First, who also lost British climber Hugh Carthy, while Sergio Higuita and (in a separate incident) Tejay van Garderen sustained injuries from their falls.
CCC Team also lost their team leader in the form of Victor de la Parte, while we’re yet to learn the full extent of the injuries suffered by the likes of James Knox (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the Jumbo-Visma trio of George Bennett, Neilson Powless and Tony Martin. The list of abandonments caused by this huge crash might yet grow.
Team Ineos bounce back with David de la Cruz
Although he will have been disappointed not to have taken the red jersey, David de la Cruz helped get Team Ineos’s race back on track after such a disappointing start.
De la Cruz had been the team’s last hope for a good GC ride after their elected co-leaders Wout Poels and Tao Geoghegan Hart lost time on day two, and even he tumbled down the classification after a poor ride on stage five’s final climb.
However, the Spaniard leaps right back up to second overall after time gained on stage six, a superb position for a rider who was only called up to ride the Vuelta at the last minute in place of Kenny Elissonde.
He certainly has the ability to ride a good GC, having finished seventh overall here back in 2016 – whether he has the form, however, is another matter.
Tadej Pogačar livens up a quiet GC day with late attack
It had seemed as though there would be no action among the GC favourites, as they ambled towards the finish line at a steady pace.
However, an attack from young prodigy Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) forced the GC contenders into action, and prompted a frantic dash up the climb to the finish.
He did initially manage to open up a sizeable gap, but an urgent reaction from the peloton reduced his gains to just two seconds at the line. And although his attack did help cause a split in the peloton, all the top GC candidates finished safely in the right side of it.
Maybe his efforts were in vain, serving more to annoy his more experienced rivals than gain any significant inroads. But it was fun to see a bit of youthful impetuousness wake the race up, and further marks the impressive Pogačar (who currently lies tenth overall, and would be much higher were it not for his team’s disastrous team time trial) as one to watch for the rest of this race.