Vuelta a Espana

2011 Vuelta a España notebook, stage 6: Taylor Phinney makes early break; Martin questions time penalty

Taylor Phinney (BMC) was close to riding into the day's main breakaway in Thursday's scorcher across Andalucîa when he pulled clear in the opening kilometers of the 193.4km stage.

2011 Vuelta a España, stage 6, Taylor Phinney
Taylor Phinney in a break during stage 6. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

CORDOBA, Spain (VN) — Taylor Phinney (BMC) was close to riding into the day’s main breakaway in Thursday’s scorcher across Andalucîa when he pulled clear in the opening kilometers of the 193.4km stage.

Though it wasn’t part of the day’s plans, the grand-tour rookie found himself at the front of the bunch on an early, unrated climb and linked up with three other riders at about 8km into the stage.

“From the team meeting, I was just supposed to conserve energy,” Phinney recounted after the stage. “I found myself up at the front and saw an opportunity and thought I might as well, just for kicks and giggles.”

The move didn’t last long, however. Two teams that missed the move, Cofidis and local team Andalucia-Caja Granada, put men on the front to chase it down.

“I found myself off the front with a friend of mine, Leigh Howard from HTC. I thought they were going to let us go. We had 50 seconds at one point,” Phinney continued.

“But then Rik (Verbrugghe) came on the radio and told me Cofidis and Andalucia were trying to pull it back. So I knew we couldn’t fight against two teams. They caught us right at the bottom of a little climb that wasn’t a real climb but a climb enough for me. Then I really struggled to hang onto the pack once they passed me.”

The opening hour of racing was so intense that the day’s main breakaway didn’t form until 70km into the stage.

Martin questions time penalty

Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) made it through Thursday’s challenging stage after struggling to limit his losses in Wednesday’s grueling day into Valdepeñas de Jaén.

Martin lost time on the road Wednesday and was later slapped with two 20-second time penalties after the race jury said he was getting paced by the team car.

“They gave me a stupid time penalty. We still don’t know why. We didn’t do anything wrong,” Martin told VeloNews. “We’re trying to appeal that now.”

Martin starts this Vuelta in good shape and hopes to be battling for the top-10 overall.

He climbed to 11th overall after sprinting to third up Sierra Nevada on Tuesday, but struggled through a sleepless night as the Vuelta caravan spent that night at altitude at the base of the ski area.

“To be honest, I am really shit at sleeping at altitude and we were sleeping at 2,300 meters (7,546 feet). I didn’t sleep a wink, it was horrible,” he said. “I suffered all day yesterday. Overall, only losing 30 seconds, I was pretty happy. I felt so bad all day, I was expecting to lose a lot more than that. I slept really good last night and I felt really good today.”

Coupled with the time penalty and the time he lost Wednesday, Martin sunk to 24th at 1:50 back.

“It’s crazy, this race. Every day the GC riders need to be in the front. It’s only stage 6 and it just keeps on coming,” Martin continued. “Hopefully it will be calmer tomorrow and we can get the sprint for Tyler.”

Jerseys

Red: Sylvain Chavanel (Quick-Step) widened his lead to 15 seconds to Dani Moreno (Katusha) while Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) nudged into third at 16 seconds back.

Mountains: Moreno defended the King of the Mountains jersey with 20 points, but David Moncoutie won the day’s top points and climbed into fourth with 10 points.

Points: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) takes the jersey though he’s tied with Pablo Lastras (Movistar), both with 48 points.

Combined: Moreno leads the category.

Team: RadioShack defended its 47-second lead to Rabobank.

Jury decisions

Pierre Cazaux (Euskaltel-Euskadi), fined 50CHF for irregular feed; DS Gorka Gerrikagoitia fined 200CHF for same infraction.

Movistar DS Jose Luis Arrieta fined 100CHF for not following directions from commissaires.

Medical report

Matti Breschel (Rabobank), crash in neutral start, cuts to chin and extremities, transferred to local hospital.

Mathias Frank (BMC) crash with cuts and scrapes to elbow and thigh.

Manuele Mori (Lampre-ISD) with multiple cuts and scrapes

Peloton

Four riders did not finish: Breschel abandoned after crash in neutral start; Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Sky) pulled out from injuries suffered in crash Wednesday when he collided with a spectator; Nicolas Vogondy (Cofidis) and Johan Tschoop (BMC) also abandoned; 190 riders remain in the Vuelta.

Weather

Continued hot, with temperatures into the mid-30Cs, moderate winds and clear skies.