VUELTA’17 ROADSIDE St.6: Contador – The Fans’ Favorite

Vuelta’17 Roadside: The plan for stage 6 was to take in the start in Benicassim and go to the finish in the port town of Sagunto and maybe get some of the press room paella. The plan was good one and was surpassed, more on that eventually.

The busses were parked all down the shady side of the street leading to the sign-on, set in a small square. Some teams were more popular than others and obviously the Trek-Segafredo bus was mobbed. Everyone wants a piece of ‘Berty’ at his last race. The other popular team is Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Movistar are the biggest Spanish team, but Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana were at home and Caja Rural and their Fuji bikes gathered quite a crowd.

Katusha-Alpecin DS Dimitri Konyshev looks as fit as when he was a rider.

Bahrain-Merida was also quite a draw, but no sign of the riders, the air-con had a strong pull for the riders on another day in the high 30ºC with a lot of humidity thrown in.

The Colombian at Trek-Segafredo, Jarliston Pantano was visiting his countrymen at the Manzana-Postobon bus.

At the sign-on all the riders received a big cheer, even the tiny Italian, Domenico Pozzovivo, who could slip in and out without being spotted, was very warmly applauded.

But the biggest cheer went up for Alberto Contador. He also had to pose with one of the girls from NamedSport nutrition drinks and bars – not a bad request.

The riders were soon lined up for the start, but there wasn’t much shade. The two Adams (or it could be Simon and Adam), Blythe and Yates had found some shelter from the sun.

Contador was getting himself ready for the off next to a cafe and there was a bit of banter going on: “One more year Alberto!” Was shouted. “No, no”, was the answer. “But what will you do?” Quick as a flash, Alberto counters with: “Go on holiday, like you!” Good point.

Esteban Chaves was calm at the start and, as always, with a big smile on his face.

There were the usual Colombian fans, but there was also a young family from Sardinia there to see their hero, Fabio Aru.

I had to point out that maybe their man wasn’t having a great season. “Next year” was the answer.

The bonus of the day was noticing that there was a short cut to the town of Onda, which was on the race course and towards the finish in Sagunto. Thanks to a very helpful policeman, there was easy parking, in a closed road next the course in the town centre and an attack was going down in front of a large crowd.

A small group was trying to cross and behind the peloton was in one long line.

Time to get to the finish for that press room paella made on a wood fire, there was a big line of ‘prensa’ and who was at the front? Luke Maguire, the crafty Irishman.

The publicity caravan at the Vuelta a España is not as big as that French race, but the NamedSport Lamborghini is very popular, mostly with the men, but the sound of that engine, oooft!

There is always Colombians… Everywhere! The Manzana Postobon team seemed to have acquired Nairo Quintana’s fan group.

But there was a bike race on and as far as I could tell from the small TV in the press tent at the finish, there were attack after attack and Tejay van Garderen had been on the road at least twice. Lotto Soudal’s Tomasz Marczynski was too good for his countryman Pawel Poljanski and Eric Mas for the stage victory.

Next in was Luis Leon Sanchez.

Then it was Warren Barguil who brought in the top GC men at 26 seconds down on the winner.

Marczynski was over the moon with his win.

Just another day in the office for Sanchez with his fourth place.

Adam Yates looked as fresh at the finish as he did at the start.

Overall leader, Chris Froome, had held his lead of 11 seconds over Chaves and was in his usual head down position after the finish.

Not a bad day for Warren Barguil, 6th on the stage and 13th overall, maybe he will show his Tour de France form in the final week?

Day over and time to go home with a last surprise from Sagunto, nice island. Six stages down and only fifteen to go.

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