Thor Hushovd rewarded his Cervélo TestTeam colleagues for their hard work at the front of the peloton on the way into Murcia this afternoon by beating Daniele Bennati of Liquigas-Doimo on the line to take Stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana, giving his team a first stage victory in what is its final bow in a Grand Tour after last week’s announcement that it is being disbanded at the end of the season.
Race leader Philippe Gilbert’s Omega Pharma-Lotto team worked hard at the front of the peloton to reel in the day’s breakaway, making the catch on the ascent of the Cresta del Gallo, a climb regularly used by local hero Alejandro Valverde, unable to defend his Vuelta title because of the small matter of that two-year ban for his links to Operacion Puerto.
The Belgian also showed that he wasn’t willing to give up his race leader’s red jersey without a fight, joining Katusha’s Filippo Pozzato off the front of the peloton on the way back down from the summit as the race headed into its closing 10 kilometres and the finish in Murcia.
However, by the time the riders entered the city, the main peloton had regrouped to comprise nearly 70 riders, though some sprinters had evidently found the going tough during that climb, with yesterday’s winner Tyler Farrar and HTC-Columbia’s Mark Cavendish notably absent from those who contested the finish.
Inside the closing kilometers, Katusha's Vladimir Karpets, put in a massive turn at the front, with Cervélo TestTeam also prominent as they looked to set up Hushovd, who earlier this week confirmed that together with several team mates he would be moving across to Garmin-Cervélo next season, for victory.
Gilbert also figured the finale, finishing sixth, and earlier, Omega Pharma-Lotto team had confirmed that the Belgian’s contract will be rewritten immediately should he win the World Championship in Geelong next time.
Team manager Marc Sergeant told the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws that although Gilbert extended his contract with the ProTour team back in April, it will be rewritten should he succeed Cadel Evans as World Champion and take the rainbow jersey.
The move presumably is a pre-emptive measure by the Belgian team to prevent a repeat of last year’s situation when Evans left Omega Pharma-Lotto for the new BMC Racing team shortly after winning the World Championship in Mendrisio, although there were other factors at work there, including what the Australian viewed as a lack of team support at the Tour de France.
Vuelta Stage 6 result 1 HUSHOVD, Thor (Cervelo TestTeam) 3h 36' 20'' 2 BENNATI, Daniele (Liquigas-Doimo) All at same time 3 BOLE, Grega (Lampre-Farnese Vini) 4 DAVIS, Allan (Astana) 5 POZZATO, Filippo (Katusha) 6 GILBERT, Philippe (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 7 VELITS, Peter (HTC-Columbia) 8 URTASUN, Pablo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 9 DUMOULIN, Samuel (Cofidis) 10 ROCHE, Nicholas (AG2R La Mondiale) 11 BAZAYEV, Assan (Astana) 12 NOCENTINI, Rinaldo (AG2R La Mondiale) 13 VOSS, Paul (Milram) 14 CATALDO, Dario (Quickstep) 15 FOFONOV, Dmitriy (Astana) 16 MEERSMAN, Gianni (Francaise des Jeux) 17 CHEREL, Mikael (Francaise des Jeux) 18 MORI, Manuele (Lampre-Farnese Vini) 19 PIETROPOLLI, Daniele (Lampre-Farnese Vini) 20 GARCÍA, David (Xacobeo-Galicia) Vuelta overall standings after Stage 6 1 GILBERT, Philippe (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 22h 36' 26'' 2 ANTON, Igor (Euskaltel-Euskadi) + 10" 3 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin (Katusha) + 10" 4 NIBALI, Vincenzo (Liquigas-Doimo) + 12" 5 VELITS, Peter (HTC-Columbia) + 16" 6 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (HTC-Columbia) + 29" 7 TONDO, Xavier (Cervelo TestTeam) + 49" 8 SCHLECK, Frank (Team Saxo Bank) + 50" 9 PLAZA, Ruben (Caisse d'Epargne) + 54" 10 MOSQUERA, Ezequiel (Xacobeo-Galicia) + 55" 11 ROCHE, Nicholas (AG2R La Mondiale) + 58" 12 ARROYO, David (Caisse d'Epargne) + 1' 01" 13 MENCHOV, Denis (Rabobank) + 1' 11" 14 URAN, Rigoberto (Caisse d'Epargne) + 1' 19" 15 DANIELSON, Thomas (Garmin-Transitions) + 1' 21" 16 SÁNCHEZ, Luis León (Caisse d'Epargne) + 1' 24"
17 KARPETS, Vladimir (Katusha) + 1' 24"
18 PERAUD, Jean-Christophe (Omega Pharma-Lotto) + 1' 33"
19 NIEVE, Mikel (Euskaltel-Euskadi) + 2' 14''
20 SASTRE, Carlos (Cervelo TestTeam) + 2' 15''
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.