Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) dropped out of the race lead at the Vuelta a España after losing contact with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) on the final climb of stage six. Carapaz now takes the red jersey with Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) moving up to second and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) dropping to third. Defending champion Roglič now sits in fourth at 30 seconds down.
The red jersey changed hands after Roglič appeared to begin struggling with just over 2km to go to the top of the climb, in a stage blighted by bad weather. Carapaz then took the opportunity to attack, bridging to a group with Carthy up the road. While Carthy was able to drop Carapaz in the final kilometre, the Ecuadorian had done enough to move into the race lead finishing 43 seconds ahead of Roglič.
Ion Izagirre (Astana) took the stage victory after attacking from the remnants of the day’s huge breakaway in the final 3km of a rain-soaked climb to Formigal.
How it happened
Stage six of the 2020 Vuelta a España should have been a fierce battle through the Pyrenees to the top of the Col du Tourmalet. With coronavirus forcing a reroute, the riders still faced a tough 146.6km finishing at the summit of Formigal.
The peloton would face difficult conditions in the final mountain day before the first rest day, with the rain falling heavily midway through the stage.
The race got off to a fast start with riders attempting to get in the breakaway and the GC teams making sure no-one who posed a danger made it into the group that finally got away.
With around 118km to a group finally settled, with 22 riders making it in. Those riders were: Rémi Cavagna and Matteo Cattaneo (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Gorka Izagirre and Ion Izagirre (Astana), Sergio Henao and Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Guillaume Martin, Pierre-Luc Périchon, and Victor Lafay (Cofidis) Carlos Verona and Jorge Arcas (Movistar), Julien Amezqueta (Caja-Rural), Robert Power, Michael Storer and Jasha Sütterlin (Sunweb), Michael Valgren (NTT Pro Cycling), Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Michael Woods and Magnus Cort (EF Pro Cycling), Quentin Jauregui (AG2R La Mondiale), Oscar Cabedo (Burgos BH), and Jonathan Hivert (Total Direct Energie).
Initially the peloton didn’t seem overly keen on letting the group disappear up the road, with the gap around 2-30 for some time. But into the final 100km the gap started to grow and by 75km remaining it was reaching nearly four minutes.
That put Gorka Izagirre in the virtual red jersey for the time being, but the gap would more than likely close rapidly on the final 14.6km (at 4.6 per cent) climb to the finish.
Into the final 50km the gap grew to over four minutes, with Israel Start-Up Nation aiding Jumbo-Visma on the front of the peloton to try and narrow that down as the break began climbing the second of the day’s three climbs.
The rain continued to lash down as the break summited the climb with 38.5km to go, with the advantage at around 3-30 and the victory now looking likely to go to a member of the breakaway.
With just over 30km to go, Gorka Izagirre pushed on down the descent, gaming a small gap of 20 seconds on the breakaway, while behind Ineos put pressure on the GC contenders as they increased the pace on the wet descent.
Izagirre was able to push out a gap of 45 seconds to the chasers, but as he approached the foot of the climb he has slowed significantly with an advantage of just 15 seconds on the group behind that still contained his brother Ion.
With just 2-35 back to the GC contenders, Gorka Izagirre continued to lead the chasers with a small gap into the final 10km, with the break now significantly smaller at 11 members as riders dropped away on the climb.
Izagirre admirably continued to press on and hold his lead, but was eventually forced to relent and pulled back into the break group with around 6.5km to go to the finish. At 2-30 back to the peloton still, it was almost certain the breakaway group would hang on for victory.
In the peloton, David De La Cruz (UAE Team Emirates) was the first to attack with 5.5km to go, forcing the pace to go up in the group and cut the gap to the leaders down to 1-50.
The action really kicked off at the front of the race and amongst the GC contenders heading into the final 4km. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked from the GC group, with Hugh Carthy chasing after him. Meanwhile further up the road, Ion Izagirre took advantage of his brother’s softening up of the break by attacking with around 3km to go, with no-one able to stick with him.
As the remaining peloton entered the final 3km, race leader Primož Roglič began to suffer and that instigated an attack from Richard Carapaz, who was quickly able to bridge up to the Hugh Carthy and David De La Cruz group that had formed.
Dan Martin was the next to take advantage of Roglič’s struggles and dropped the Slovenian, while Chaves was now back with the race leader.
At the front of the race, no-one was able to stop Izagirre from stretching out his gap, and the Basque rider took a commanding victory atop Formigal as Michael Woods beat Rui Costa to claim second place.
The red jersey was now looking in deep trouble as Carapaz forced the pace in the front group, around 40 seconds up the road. As they entered the 500m or so, Carthy took the opportunity to attack the Carapaz group and was able to make some gains on the Ecuadorian who crossed the line six seconds later, doing enough to move into the overall lead.
Dan Martin was able to limit his losses better than Roglic as he crossed the line with De La Cruz at 28 seconds down on Carapaz, while Roglič had to settle for losing 43 seconds and dropping to fourth overall on a difficult day for the 2019 Vuelta champion.
The Vuelta now heads into its first rest day on Monday, with more mountains to tackle on stage seven on Tuesday.
Vuelta a España 2020, stage six: Biescas to Aramón Formigal (146.4km)
1 Ion Izaguirre (Esp) Astana Pro Team, in 3-41-00
2 Michael Woods (Can) EF Pro Cycling, at 25s
3 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at same time
4 Rob Power (Aus) Team Sunweb, at 27s
5 Michael Valgren (Den) NTT Pro Cycling
6 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, all at same time
7 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 38s
8 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling, at 48s
9 Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Astana Pro Team, at 53s
10 Sergio Henao (Col) UAE Team Emirates, at 55s
General classification after stage six
1 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, in 24-34-39
2 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling, at 18s
3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 20s
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 30s
5 Enric Mas Nicolau (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-07
6 Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-30
7 Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-42
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott, at 2-02
9 David De la Cruz (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-46