Thursday’s sixth stage of La Vuelta Ciclista a España went bananas, as a huge breakaway with many riders high in the table turned the GC on its head. It was also a massive day for Jumbo-Visma, as American Sepp Kuss took the win, and Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard put 32 seconds into Remco Evenepoel. The white jersey Lenny Martinez, a fugitive like Kuss, is now the red jersey.
Thursday contained two Cat. 3s in the first half of 183 km, but the big ascent was the summit finish climb of Pico del Buitre up to Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre.
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) August 31, 2023
There was a flurry of attacking and counterattacking in the early part of the race, but the day’s breakaway didn’t form until between Cat. 3 Puerto de Arenillas and its fellow Cat. 3 Alto Fuente de Rubielos. This escape was enormous, 39 riders strong, with third place Martinez (+0:17), Mark Soler (+0:48) and Kuss (+0:55). In fact, there were 11 riders from the top-25 accounted for. With 60 km to go, this mob was 6:00 clear of the red jersey group.
By 40 km remaining, the gap was down to 4:00. Thirty kilometres to race? 3:30. The peloton had the momentum before Pico del Buitre. However, 10 km later the breakaway’s lead had only come down only 15 seconds.
Pico del Buitre
The breakaway had pulled back its advantage to 3:45 when the roads kicked up. Martinez’s teammate Michael Storer set the pace. The red jersey group was smaller than the escape bunch, and the grades whittled down both gangs.
With just over 4 km to climb, Movistar’s Colombian Einer Rubio attacked, drawing Romain Bardet, Martinez and Kuss.
Roglič made his move and nobody could hang with him, although Enric Mas, teammate Vingegaard and Juan Ayuso strived to do so.
Up ahead Kuss went solo. Vingegaard and Mas joined Roglič and another Jumbo-Visma rider who had been in the breakaway, Hungarian Attila Valter.
When he went under the red kite, Kuss had 30 seconds on Martinez and Bardet. Kuss had time to high-five the crowd before celebrating at the line.
Evenepoel is still a few seconds ahead of Roglič and Vingegaard.
Friday’s seventh stage is the tale of two halves: lumpy first 100 km and 100 pan-flat kilometres.
78th La Vuelta Ciclista a España Stage 6
1) Sepp Kuss (USA/Jumbo-Visma)
2) Lenny Martinez (France/Groupama-FDJ) +0:26
3) Romain Bardet (France/DSM-Firmenich) +0:31
78th La Vuelta Ciclista a España GC
1) Lenny Martinez (France/Groupama-FDJ)
2) Sepp Kuss (USA/Jumbo-Visma) +0:08
3) Marc Soler (Spain/UAE-Emirates) +0:51