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Vuelta 05 Stg 6: Heras And Piil Offer Heroics

It’s a very familiar name at the top of the 2005 Vuelta classification as the first ski station finish of this year’s kicks things over, and a couple of big names says Adios to their chances.

Once again, the mountains made like Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Dr Seuss fans will know what I’m talking about) and caused total pandemonium.

By the time the riders got to the Valdelinares finish, previous holder of the maillot d’ oro, Brad McGee, was out of the picture (12 minutes down) and a man synonymous with the Vuelta was in charge.

The echelons provided a brutal warm-up before the race hit the mountains proper.

We had breakaways, regroupings, big groups, little groups and solo escapes today, but in the end there was always a suspicion that Roberto Heras was going to come out on top.

Finally dropping a revelatory Denis Menchov, that is precisely what the Liberty Seguros chief did, powering clear in the last two kilometres.

After a fast start, with lots of splits, things got really interesting when 6 guys escaped definitively with 60kms left (Piil, Joachim, Moerenhout, Leblacher, Miorin and Burgos). They built a lead before Jakob Piil left his companions behind.

Piil has had a miserable time with injuries for the better part of 18 months and there was speculation that CSC would ditch him before next season.

But he’s fit, has a new contract and was making the most of his reprieve by hammering at the front today.

Piil was nearly 3.30 up when he hit the last climb. Behind, Michele Scarponi was doing the damage for Liberty, blitzing the lead group before dropping back.

Despite his monumental effort Piil was overtaken by a flying Heras. The Liberty boss was looking super-smooth, and Menchov did a remarkable job to hang on as long as he did.

Previous winners Aitor Gonzalez and Angel Casero were dropped on the final climb, but then they weren’t the only ones to suffer with Jose Azevedo losing 8 minutes.

We had a few abandonments, too, including 2 from Domina Vacanze (Cadamuro and Solari) and 2 from Francaise des Jeux (Auger and Eisel).

Bigger news still was that Floyd Landis quit the race, and headed home. One year after his gold jersey heroics, things just weren’t ticking right for the Phonak leader, and he’s out of the race. His team reported that: “the injuries (hand, arm and hip) that the American suffered during a crash while training last week made riding very uncomfortable.”

Vuelta Espana Stage 6 Cuenca – Valdelinares 217 kms

1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wьrth 5hrs 27’ 20”
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank + 13”
3 David Blanco Rodiguez (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana + 28”
4 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana + 42”
5 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step-Innergetic + 49”
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears same
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC same
8 Jakob Piil (Den) CSC + 52”
9 Marcos Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wьrth + 1’ 15”
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Wьrth same

Vuelta Overall after Stage 6
1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wьrth 23hrs 42’ 13”
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank + 6”
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC + 1’ 01”
4 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir + 1’ 03”
5 David Blanco (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana + 1’ 05”
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears + 1’ 20”
7 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana + 1’ 33”
8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step – Innergetic same
9 Unai Yus Kerejeta (Spa) Bouygues Telecom same
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros-Wьrth + 1’ 52”
11 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel + 1’ 57”

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