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  5. 2017 Vuelta a España, stage 6

2017 Vuelta a España

STAGE 6: Vila-real to Sagunt

This could be a favorable stage for breakaways. The category 2 Garbí climb may lead to the formation of a group that will fight for victory, but this will all depend on how good the breakaway is. By this point, there will already be around 15 riders who stand out in the general classification, and we will know who has a real chance of winning La Vuelta.

Stage 6: Froome builds lead, Marczynski wins

Tomasz Marczynski
Tomasz Marczynski won stage 6 at the Vuelta. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

SAGUNTO, Spain (AFP) — Poland’s Tomasz Marczynski claimed stage 6 of the Vuelta a España on Thursday as Chris Froome (Sky) withstood a day of five categorized climbs and counter-attacks to maintain the overall race lead.

Lotto-Soudal’s Marczynski edged out compatriot Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Spaniard Enric Mas (Quick-Step) on the line to claim the 204.4km stage from Vila Real to Sagunto.

Froome finished eighth, alongside most of the general classification favorites 26 seconds back.

Stage 6, top 10

1. Tomasz Marczynski (POL/LOT), in 4h47:02.
2. Pawel Poljanski (POL/BOR), at 0:00.
3. Enric Mas (ESP/QST) 0:00.
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/AST) 0:08.
5. Jan Polanc (SLO/EAU) 0:08.
6. Warren Barguil (FRA/SUN) 0:26.
7. Giovanni Visconti (ITA/BAH) 0:26.
8. Christopher Froome (GBR/SKY) 0:26.
9. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 0:26.
10. Jack Haig (AUS/ORI) 0:26.

Top-10 overall

1. Christopher Froome (GBR/Sky) 22h54:38.
2. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) à 0:11.
3. Nicolas Roche (IRL/BMC) 0:13.
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 0:30.
5. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) 0:36.
6. David De la Cruz (ESP/QST) 0:40.
7. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 0:49.
8. Adam Yates (GBR/ORI) 0:50.
9. Michael Woods (CAN/CAN) 1:13.
10. Simon Yates (GBR/ORI) 1:26.

“That’s the hardest day of the Vuelta so far,” said Froome. “It didn’t stop all day, the attacks and for us having Sanchez in front we had to pull really hard and keep the break really close.

“The team was fantastic today and I want to thank my teammates that I’m still in red today. It was a tough stage and a lot of people spent a lot of energy.”

However, the Briton extended his lead by one second to 11 seconds as Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) leapt into second following a nightmare stage for Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).

The American suffered two crashes and a puncture as he lost 17 seconds on the race leaders’ group to fall to fourth overall.

A huge early breakaway group of 37 riders was kept in check by the pace set by Froome’s Team Sky teammates in the peloton.

Yet, it wasn’t until the fifth and final climb up the Puerto del Garbi that the general classification favorites began to fight it out as Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) attacked and was followed by Froome and van Garderen.

As Contador and Froome briefly opened up a 15-second gap on their rivals, van Garderen suffered his first crash of the day.

The chasing group containing Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Fabio Aru (Astana), and Chaves neutralized that advantage on the descent to the finish line.

Up front Marczynski, Poljanski, and Mas were the only three remaining from the breakaway and fought it out in a sprint finish for the stage win.

“I came here very motivated, I thought I could achieve something and today was the day,” said Marczynski after the biggest win of his career.

“It was a very tough stage, a big breakaway. We went up the last climb very quickly.

“I said I was going to give it my all and it went perfectly.”

The drama wasn’t over for van Garderen as he then suffered a puncture and in his desperation to get back to the peloton hit the ground again upon breaking as he entered a roundabout too quickly.

He did at least minimize the damage to fall just 30 seconds behind Froome overall.

The American’s Irish teammate Nicholas Roche moved up to third just 13 seconds back on the four-time Tour de France winner.

Friday’s stage 7 contains another three categorized climbs on the 207km from Lliria to Cuenca.