Everybody expected a shake-up in the Vuelta a España overall classification on the stage 6 summit finish of the Pico Jano, but few could have expected the race to be flipped on its head in the way that it was.
Under torrential rain, Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) stormed into the race lead with an impressive show of strength on the final climb. The young Belgian had put his team to work throughout the stage and repaid them with interest as he pushed a pace so hard that nearly all of the other GC riders fell away.
In fact, the only rider that was able to stick with the surge of Evenepoel was Enric Max (Movistar). The Spaniard had been on the receiving end of lots of criticism in his home press following a disappointing performance at the Tour de France, but he looked as good as ever as he hung onto Evenepoel’s wheel.
The attacking duo almost caught Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who had attacked from the group of favorites further down the climb, but they could not reel him in. Though they missed out on stage glory, there was plenty to be gained in the GC hunt with Evenepoel moving up eight places to claim red. Meanwhile, Mas climbed 12 positions to slot into third overall at 28 seconds behind Evenepoel.
- Vuelta a España: Primož Roglič ‘didn’t have the legs’ to follow
- Vuelta a España: Remco Evenepoel delivers on GC hype to roar into lead
- Vuelta a España stage 6: Jay Vine conquers the rainy conditions to win, Remco Evenepoel in red
Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), who started the day in red, was the only one from yesterday’s winning breakaway to remain in the top 10. Despite being distanced early on in the final climb, the Frenchman battled on admirably to stay second overall at 21 seconds behind Evenepoel.
Evenepoel left a trail of destruction in his wake with pre-race GC contenders scattered all over the mist-covered road. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) had been in red just a day ago, but he was forced to pace the struggling chasers up the climb in an effort to limit his losses.
As Roglič settled into a pace, grand tour debutant Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) attacked from the group to try and bring back the leaders. The 19-year-old ultimately made some ground but never managed to bridge the gap and he finished 55 seconds behind Vine and 40 behind Evenepoel. It still helped him move up to fifth place, jumping past 14 other riders.
The Roglič-led group trailed across the line 42 seconds behind Ayuso and 1:20 behind Evenepoel, leaving Roglič 1:01 off the race lead.
Riding in with the Slovenian were Pavel Sivakov, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Carlos Rodriguez (all Ineos Grenadiers), Jai Hindley, Wilco Kelderman (both Bora-Hansgrohe), Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates, Gino Mäder (Bahrain-Victorious), Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën), and Thymen Arensman (Team DSM).
Astana-Qazaqstan GC leader Miguel Ángel López gave away a further 13 seconds, while Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) rolled in seven seconds later.
The EF Education-EasyPost pairing of Hugh Carthy and Rigoberto Urán, who finished 1:58 and 2:27 behind Evenepoel respectively, had a torrid day. So too Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), who lost a massive 2:44 to the Belgian.
Despite the time losses, both Carthy and Urán climbed the GC standings after a disappointing team time trial on the opening day. However, Carthy is now 3:16 off the race lead and Urán is 3:45. Carapaz remains ahead of them, but he has slipped nine places overall and now sits in 19th at 2:56.
By far the biggest loser overall was Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), who gave away almost six minutes on the red jersey. Landa had played down his overall chances ahead of the race after his build-up to the Vuelta was disrupted by a back injury, so it was not too much of a surprise to see him out of contention early on. Bahrain Victorious will now be relying on Mäder to deliver the goods overall.
General classification after stage 6
1. Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 20:50:07
2. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) at 00:21
3. Enric Mas (Movistar) at 00:28
4. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) at 01:01
5. Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) at 01:12
6. Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) at 01:27
7. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) at s.t.
8. Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) at 01:34
9. Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) at 01:52
10. João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) at 01:54
11. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 01:55
12. Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) at s.t.
13. Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) at 02:03
15. Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën) at 02:09
16. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) at 02:14
17. Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Qazaqstan) at 02:20
19. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) at 02:56
22. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) at 03:16
24. Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) at 3:45