Vuelta a España 2013 Stage 6
Guijuelo to Caceres 177.3km


The sprinters had the sixth stage of the 2013 Vuelta marked on their calendars. The 177.3km  (110.8mi) course from Guijuelo to Caceres was definitely a stage for them to win. With this three-week race tilted in favor of climbers, the mad dashers have few chances to shine; as a result, they need to maximize every opportunity.

Flat stages are where riders like Ivan Basso of Cannondale Pro Cycling try to take an attentive rest day. And this was looking like it would be another such day, the second of the Vuelta.

And when Tony Martin of Omega Pharma-Quickstep dashed off shortly after the opening kilometers, it didn't seem like enough of an escape to take note of. Seeing those odds, BMC's Marco Pinotti rushed off the front to catch the German. Martin is the current world champion in the time trial. Pinotti is a multi-time Italian national champ in the discipline. If the two could link up, it would be a fascinating show.

Pinotti didn't quite have the speed to catch up and Martin chose not to slow down. Martin was out to practice high-speed solo riding. He also was helping his team by relieving them of any responsibility for chasing on this day. They have a good sprinter in Gianni Meersman and with this finish favoring his skill set, they could let others tire themselves out while they get a free ride until the final kilometers.

In 33km (20.6mi), Martin raced to a seven-and-a-half minute gap. That might be big for a group of riders, but with one versus the peloton, the gap is nothing. Sure enough, the gap then started dropping. The field, largely led by Orica-Greenedge, working for yesterday's winner, Michael Matthews, chipped away at the German's lead. Getting it to less than three minutes with 40km (25mi) remaining. There was no rush to finish the chase.

Down to 25km (15.6mi) and the gap was a mere minute-and-a-half. They could almost see him on long straightaways. The field slowed, figuring the longer they delayed the catch, the less likelihood there was of more attacks.

The sprinters’ teams sat up. And the overall contenders’ teams rolled to the front, protecting their top guys and keeping things safe and steady. Cannondale found the right side of the road to their liking and rolled up to the front from there, holding good position.

Down to ten kilometers (6.25mi) and the gap was fifteen seconds. The pack could see him pretty well now. But the sprinters teams were having trouble committing. They knew the finishing few kilometers were very tricky, lots of tight turns and roundabouts, and didn't want to get rushed from behind just as that started. So the gap hovered.

Five kilometers (3.1mi) remained. The gap was eight seconds. The field started picking up the pace, but the turns were slowing their progress.

Final kilometer (.625mi) and Martin still had six seconds in hand. Argos-Shimano and Garmin-Sharp were at the front. But not fully committed.

Last turn, Martin was still ahead. The sprinters launched. He's still ahead. The finish line was right there. Martin was still ahead. Ten meters to go, and they caught him. Saxo-Tinkoff's Michael Morkov won, with Martin finishing seventh. Guillaume Boivin, Cannondale's lone Canadian, was the team's best finisher in fourteenth place.

Tomorrow the 195.5km (122.2mi) stage from Almendralejo to Mairena de Aljafare offers up another road that should well lead to a sprint finish. The opening has a steady diet of rolling hills but gets flatter and easier as the day wears on. Another day for Cannondale Pro Cycling to conserve energy in anticipation of the three mountain stages that follow.

Vuelta a España 2013
Stage 6 Guijuelo to Caceres


Stage Results

1. Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff                       3:54:15             
2. Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida               same time
3.Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard                     same time
4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp                                     same time
5. Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM     same time


Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

14. Guillaume Boivin (Can)                                                    same time
28. Daniele Ratto (Ita)                                                             same time
39. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita)                                               same time
59. Ivan Basso (Ita)                                                                 same time
91. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg)                                            same time
97. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col)                        same time
127. Cameron Wurf (Aus)                                                      same time
141. Maciej Paterski (Pol)                                                       0:00:45                                     
143. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita)                                                same time       

General Classification

1.Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team                                22:38:07           
2. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard               0:00:03             
3.Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff                               0:00:08             
4.Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard            0:00:16             
5. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team            0:00:21           


General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling

27. Ivan Basso (Ita)                                                                 0:01:32           
56. Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col)                        0:07:21           
81. Maciej Paterski (Pol)                                                         0:15:19           
90. Daniele Ratto (Ita)                                                             0:18:43           
101. Cameron Wurf (Aus)                                                      0:21:04           
105. Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita)                                                0:23:18           
129. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita)                                             0:31:03           
136. Guillaume Boivin (Can)                                                  0:32:19           
163. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg)                                          0:39:36