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VUELTA’18 Stage 6: Bouhanni By A Nose!

Stage Report: After way too many kms of watching a sleepy peloton roll across the barren coastal landscape from Huércal-Overa to San Javier, Mar Menor, a crash and crazy crosswinds rang the alarm to set up balls-out finale that saw Nacer Bouhanni win by a nose, while a couple of Vuelta a España GC hopefuls lost time and… hope.

– Words from LaVuelta –
A nervous stage 6 of La Vuelta 18 saw Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) dominate a very tight sprint ahead of Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors). The Frenchman claims his first Grand Tour victory since he took two on the Spanish Grand Tour in 2014. Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) managed to finish in a 50-man bunch to retain the red jersey. But his leader Thibaut Pinot dropped 1’40’’ and so did Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)

We’re in the south east of Spain, not far from our own Spanish bureau HQ – and in fact Alastair went full Roadside for today’s stage – sostay tined for his report coming later.

On a day highlighted by many as one of the few opportunities for sprinters to shine, three riders attacked from the start: Polka-dot jersey wearer Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Australian star Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) and Spanish talent Jorge Cubero (Burgos-BH). They already enjoyed a 3’20’’ lead at km 5, before Elia Vivianis’s Quick-Step Floors and Giacomo Nizzolo’s Trek-Segafredo got into action alongside Rudy Molard’s Groupama-FDJ to control the gap around 3 minutes.

Rudy Mollard enjoyed his second day in the leader’s red jersey.

Luis Angel Mate took the KOM points atop the cat-3 Alto del Garrobillo, 93km away from the finish. The peloton took it easier in the climb and the gap rose to 3’48’’ at the summit. But sprinters’ teams brought it back around 2 minutes with 80km to go. Mate also summited first the cat-3 Alto Cedacero. The gap was then up to 2’30’’ with 53km to go.

Former winner Nairo Quintana continues to command a crowd, and lurks in contention at 1’14” back of the leader.

Kelderman and Pinot at the back
The pack maintained a tight leash on the attackers and their hopes of succeeding at San Javier were very slim with a gap down under 1 minute as the race under the last 45km. Jorge Cubero tried to go solo with 33km to go but he was reeled in only 4km later, as a nervous pack accelerated through the wind. A crash involving Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) split the bunch with 25km to go. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was at the back. And Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) suffered a mechanical 6km further.

Pinot and Kelderman’s teammates united their strength to try and limit the losses behind a front group reduced to about 30 riders. The gap was up to 1’40’’ with 8km to go and stabilised until the finish line, where Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) edged everyone.

• Note: Canadian readers can watch the Vuelta LIVE with a subscription at Flobikes.com

Stay tuned to PEZ for Alastair Roadside adventures from the day…

Vuelta a España Stage 6 result:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis in 3:58:35
2. Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
4. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
6. Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
7. Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana
8. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana
9. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors
11. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
12. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
13. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
14. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky
15. Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
16. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
17. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
18. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
19. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
20. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
21. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
22. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
23. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
24. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
25. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 6:
1. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 22:26:15
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 0:41
3. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:48
4. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:51
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:53
6. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 1:11
7. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:14
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
9. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:18
10. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 1:23
11. George Bennett (NZ) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:26
12. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana at 1:27
13. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 1:28
14. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 1:29
15. David De La Cruz (Spa) Sky at 1:34
16. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 1:46
17. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb at 2:50
18. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 3:08
19. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 3:25
20. Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 3:31
21. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar at 3:59
22. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 4:25
23. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 4:28
24. Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida at 4:45
25. Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data at 4:51.

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