Cannondale Pro Cycling's Alessandro de Marchi has won the first Grand Tour stage of his career, proving the strongest rider from the day's break to win Stage 6 of the Vuelta in Alcaudete. Fellow escapee Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp finished second after crashing 14km out, with the other two members of the break, Hubert Dupont of AG2R and IAM's Johann Tschopp third and fourth respectively.
Team Sky's Chris Froome crashed a little more than 30km into the 169km stage from Alhendín and needed treatment from the medical car. The Team Sky rider, who crashed out of the Tour de France after a series of crashes, seemed to have suffered no more than losing some skin, but we will bring you more on his condition later.
The Sky rider did put in a dig from the main bunch to finish seventh and steal 2 seconds' advantage over his rivals for the overall title, his push for the line also perhaps signifying his crash wasn't as bad as may have been feared. Movistar's Alejandro Valverde retains the race lead.
De Marchi has come close to pulling off a Grand Tour stage win on several occasions in the past, and said: "Maybe there was always something missing for me to win but it was my destiny to get my first victory in a Grand Tour at my first participation to the Vuelta. I’m happy, everything worked to perfection today."
He dedicated his win to former Italian national coach Alfredo Martini, who died on Monday at the age of 93. "He was an important piece of Italian cycling," De Marchi refelcted. "I’ve been lucky enough to get to know him briefly but I heard a lot about him. I would have loved to know him more. In the last few kilometres, I thought the first Italian victory at the Vuelta had to be dedicated to him."
The Cannondale rider won the super-combativity award at this year's Tour de France, and was asked whether it felt better to be on the podium on the Champs-Elysees, or to have won a Vuelta stage.
"It’s very difficult to answer this question," he replied. "Had I another chance to ride the 2014 Tour de France, I would repeat exactly what I did.
"It was my destiny to not win a stage at the Tour but the feeling of being on the podium in Paris was like a victory. Here I’ve won by myself. I put those two achievements on the same level."
Following the stage, Froome spoke about his crash, which left him with some very nasty looking road rash as this picture shows.
The Team Sky rider said: “I’m feeling okay but you definitely get the feeling that when bad luck comes it comes more than once. But all things considered I’m feeling all right and I think I got off relatively unscathed. It’s good to have another day behind us now.
"When the crash happened a Giant-Shimano rider went down in front of me just to my left. I swerved to try and avoid that and went down. Then the guys paced me back. It took us a good 15km before we got back into the peloton.
"I’ve even gained two seconds on the finishing line! I’ll definitely take that after a stage like today. At the end of the race you might need all the seconds you can to defend your place. I’ll keep chipping away and get closer to the time trial.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.