The Quick-Step Floors team can do no wrong at the Vuelta a San Juan. After earning two stage wins through Fernando Gaviria and one through Tom Boonen, with each leading the other out, the Belgian team made a plan for Maximiliano Richeze on stage 6, and the Argentinian duly delivered.
The 33-year-old's main duty is to set the likes of Gaviria up for sprints, and he was repaid on Saturday with free reign to get himself into the breakaway. With Quick-Step freed of the responsibility to pull on the front of the peloton – having been the prominent force on the previous flat stages – Richeze and his companions carved out an insurmountable advantage, and he finished the job from a group of three.
"It was a lovely gesture from the team. The staff, and all my teammates, they put their faith in me," said Richeze in his post-race press conference.
"I've felt good here, I've been doing a good job for my teammates, and the truth is I'm very grateful for the team for giving me this opportunity today. Last year they gave me the chance to be leader at the Tour de San Luis and here again, they've given me the freedom to go for a stage. I'm very grateful."
The pattern so far indicated that it was Boonen's turn to sprint, but the Belgian explained the tactics to Cyclingnews after crossing the line.
"We said 'listen, there are two ways we're going to do this – either we ride for the sprint again, or we try and get Max in the break'. From the first break that was serious, Max was in and they got a nice lead. With the heat, people tried to close it, but it wasn't a well organised group – some dead riders just trying to get to the finish.
"After all the work he has done for the team he deserved a shot at a win."
After around 70km the stage was shortened due to the intense heat, and Richeze soon noticed some of his companions flagging. It was he who started to attack in a bid to shake off the dead wood, and three were left from the original 10.
"It was a big break, then with 60km to go I noticed the collaboration in the break wasn't good – lots not wanting to pull. I decided to try and attack and see what happened, and we ended up as three," he said.
"We started to think we could make it with about 20km to go as we still had a decent gap. We made a big effort, it was full gas all day."
Richeze will return to sprint train duties on Sunday's final stage, where Quick-Step will be looking to cap a perfect week. "We came to win stages and we’ve got four from six so far," added Richeze. It's impossible to get better than that."
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