Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Vuelta a España stage 6.
2020 is nothing if not unpredictable. Today's stage was due to go up the Col du Tormalet today and would have been the Vuelta's only trip outside of Spain. However, coronavirus restrictions in France meant the stage could not go ahead as planned. Organisers have quickly redrawn the route and the replacement should provide an exciting day of racing with a summit finish in Formigal.
If Formigal sounds familiar to you then cast your mind back to 2016 and one of the most dramatic days in cycling, as Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana went on a day-long break. Meanwhile, Chris Froome was caught out and spent the day chasing back on. Patrick Fletcher has put together this fabulous preview for today's stage.
Will we get a similarly exciting day of racing today? We'll find out soon enough as the stage starts in a little over half an hour.
Today should be a big day for the general classification riders ahead of the first rest day at the Vuelta. Before we get too far, let's take a look at how things stand overall. There are currently three Jumbo-Visma riders in the top 10, how long can they keep that up for?
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 20:52:31
2 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 00:00:05
3 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 00:00:13
4 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:32
5 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 00:00:38
6 Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:00:44
7 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:17
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 00:01:29
9 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:55
10 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:01:57
The key part of today's route is pratically identical to what it was in 2016, with the Alto de Petralba and the Puerto de Cotefablo the precursor to the climb to Formigal. It is a slightly easier prospect than the one that was previously planned but the organisers have done well to find such a challenging replacement at short notice.
Briefly away from the Vuelta a Espana and today was supposed to be Paris-Roubaix. The Hell of the North may have been cancelled, but why not re-live one of the best editions of the race with our lookback at the 2016 edition of the race where Mat Hayman outgunned Tom Boonen in the Roubaix velodrome. Read the full story here.
Let’s start this stage 6! #LaVuelta20 #AstanaProTeam pic.twitter.com/J32R2dOkrDOctober 25, 2020
And the peloton has rolled out from Biescas. We should have racing proper in about 15 minutes.
After his day in the breakaway yesterday, Tim Wellens is the leader in the mountains classification. Will we see him try to defend it today?
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 19
2 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 18
3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 16
4 Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma 14
5 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 7
6 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 7
7 Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale 6
8 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 6
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 6
10 Thyman Arensman (Ned) Team Sunweb 4
The flag has dropped for racing and we have a lot of attacks coming off the front of the peloton. Sunweb is heavily involved as they try to send multiple riders into the break.
Dan Martin was caught up in a tumble at the end of yesterday's stage when there was a touch of wheels in the middle of the peloton. Fortunately for the Irishman, he was given the same time as the main group and avoided any injuries. Read the full story here.
Three riders have a small lead over the peloton at the moment and more riders are trying to join them. The three are Magnus Cort, Remi Cavagna and Remy Mertz.
The pace was briefly knocked off and it looked like the break would be allowed to go but some teams have other ideas. Burgos BH is having a go. They missed the move yesterday and they won't want to miss it again.
132.8km to go
The three up front have just 20 seconds on the peloton right now.
Ion Izagirre is at the front of the peloton and he brings Mertz back. Izagirre was one of the riders that crashed in yesterday's finale.
Cort has sat up and it's just Cavagna left up front.
Cavagna is pushing on and there's a group of 15 riders trying to bridge across to him.
There are three more riders a little further back, just ahead of the peloton.
Interestingly, Cavagna isn't sitting up and waiting to be joined by this chasing group. He's still plugging away at a fast pace on a small downhill section. The chasers have to work to get to him, he's not going to make it easy for them.
🏁 Km 10 | Etapa 6 - Stage 6 | #LaVuelta20🇪🇸 Constantes intentos de escapada en los primeros kilómetros🇬🇧 The fight is on to make it to the breakaway! 🔥📸: @charlylopezph 👉https://t.co/zqaO4Bw62K pic.twitter.com/djwvlj6QjZOctober 25, 2020
125km to go
The chase group is not making any ground on Cavagna. Meanwhile, the peloton is still about 20 seconds behind the chasers and strung out. It is another very fast start to the stage.
The chase group behind Cavagna now has 22 riders in it and they're still 14 seconds behind the French time triallist, who is 28 seconds ahead of the peloton. More riders continue to attack off the front of the peloton.
Cavagna has been caught by the chasers and there are two more riders trying to bridge the gap, they are Grmay and Ligthart.
The riders up front are: Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Matteo Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Carlos Verona (Movistar), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Julien Amezqueta (Caja-Rural), Ion Izagirre (Astana), Robert Power (Sunweb), Michael Valgren (NTT Pro Cycling), Dylan van Baarle (Ineos-Grenadiers), Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling), Quentin Jauregui (AG2R La Mondiale), Oscar Cabedo (Burgos BH), Jorge Arcas (Movistar) Michael Storer (Sunweb), Victor Lafay (Cofidis), Magnus Cort (EF Pro Cycling), Pierre Luc Perichon (Cofidis), Jasha Sutterlin (Movistar), Jonathan Hivert (Direct Energy).
116.3km to go
The peloton has caught the two chasers in the middle and they appear to have sat back now as the gap goes up to 1:55.
The best placed rider overall in the breakaway is Gorka Izagirre 3:37 down. Do Jumbo-Visma know he is in there? They can't let him have too much room.
After losing a bunch of time in the early week, Chris Froome is playing the roll of domestique. The former Vuelta champion has a store of cold weather gear tucked into his jersey as he battles to put his own on. He's back into the peloton and working his way up.
111km to go
Jumbo-Visma is keeping a close eye on this breakaway. They've pegged the gap at a little over two minutes.
The peloton are on the second of two laps of a opening circuit that was created to bulk out this stage. There's still about 30 kilometres before they reach the first climb of the day the Alto de Petralba.
It's a bit harder to spot the red jersey of Primoz Roglic as he's got his Jumbo-Visma jacket on over the top. It's a pretty cool 13 degrees and it's only going to get colder as they go into the mountains.
The Jorge Arcas fan club is on the side of the road. He is a local boy and grew up in yesterday's finish town of Sabiñánigo.
The gap has grown out to 2:43 for the escapees. That time would put Gorka Izagirre well into the top 10.
There was one non-starter this morning in Fernando Barcelo. The Spaniard was a big instigator in yesterday's stage but he suffered a heart issue during the stage and has been forced to pull out of the race.
As we head towards today's mountains, read up on what happened the last time the Vuelta a Espana did this string of climbs.
Jumbo-Visma is setting a quick pace in the peloton to keep the breakaway close at hand. However, the gap has dragged out to 3:20 and Gorka Izagirre is now on the virtual podium.
Less than 10 kilometres until the first ascent of the day, the Alto de Petralba. The climb is 6.5k and has an average gradient of 5.1%.
If you're not on it already, don't forget we have live coverage of today's decisive Giro d'Italia time trial. Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley are going head to head for the final maglia rosa. Follow it here.
The peloton is still strung out in a long line. The average speed at the moment is 46.2kph. After yesterday's quick pace, this is very tough.
And it has just started to rain over the peloton as they hit the lower slopes of the first climb.
Gorka Izagirre may be the best placed rider, but there are several dangerous riders in this breakaway. Matteo Cattaneo and Sergio Henao are just over four minutes behind the red jersey and Guillaume Martin is slowly climbing the standings after being in the breakaway yesterday.
The gap is now 3:47, making Izagirre the virtual leader. The rain is going to play a factor today and could make things a little more unpredictable.
With no Tim Wellens in the breakaway today, Guillaume Martin is the best placed in the momuntains classification. He is 12 points behind Wellens in the standings and could overtake him by the end of the day.
A bit of a sticky bottle for Oliveira after he dropped back to pick up extra kit for his teammates. The rain is not relenting for now.
77.9km to go
The gap is fairly steady at the moment at 3:41.
Less than a kilmoetre to the top of the first climb and Martin has moved to the front of the breakaway group. He looks like he's interested in taking the points.
Martin does take the points at the top and now riders are zipping up their jackets ready for the descent.
The descent is short and sharp and the road starts to rise almost as soon as their into the valley. The second climb of the day is the second category Alto de Cotefablo, which is 13.5km long at an average gradient of 4.1km.
Gorka Izagirre is pulling out a bit of a gap on his companions on the descent. Given the wet weather, it's best to give other riders a wide berth.
At this rate, Izagirre will have 30 seconds on the other escapees by the bottom of the descent.
67.7km to go
The rain is coming down even heavier and the clouds are getting darker. The gap to the escapees is now 3:55.
The leaders are climbing again but the official start of the second ascent is still annother 13km away.
If you missed yesterday's Vuelta stage, you can catch up on the highlights here.
The average pace is still fairly high on this stage at 44.7kph. Direct Energie has put a rider on the front of the peloton again. I have no idea either.
Ion Izagirre is with his brother in the breakaway today. This is what the Basque rider had to say about the stage ahead of the start:
“Today we’re expecting rain and we’ll see how the day goes. Many teams wanted to go in the breakaway yesterday, it’s been a hard day and it was a very intense stage. And I think today we'll see the same dynamics, with a short stage and the rest day tomorrow. Many teams haven’t won yet and I think it will be a huge battle. It will be very hard, we’re in the Pyrenees and Formigal is almost 1.800m above sea level. If it rains, it will get cold and that will take a toll.”
My apologies, it is Israel Start-Up Nation that is on the front of the peloton, which makes a lot more sense. It's hard to tell when they're all wearing black rain jackets.
Remi Cavagna put in a little attack off the front of the breakaway. He's one of very few riders that has decided not to wear a rain jacket. I wonder if he will regret that at the end of the day.
With the slight injection of pace fromm Israel Start-Up Nation, the gap has fallen to 3:36. The second climb of the day is just about to start.
The Puerto de Cotefablo is toughest at the start with gradients of about six per cent. It levels out for a little over a kilometre before ramping up again to the top.
51.2km to go
Jumbo-Visma is back on the front after that brief surge from Israel Start-Up Nation. The gap has grown once again to 3:55.
#LaVuelta20We’re on the middle climb of the day and entering the final 50km of racing. The 23-man front group has 4minutes on the bunch. 📸 @charlylopezph pic.twitter.com/228pKkHjTbOctober 25, 2020
Israel Start Up Nation have put a rider on the front of the peloton again. The gap to the escapees is now over four minutes. It's still reasonably close but it looks like the peloton may allow this breakaway to take the spoils today. They just want to keep an eye on the likes of Izagirre.
The rain had abated for a moment but it's hoofing down again. Meanwhile, the temperature has dropped to a chilly nine degrees. Hopefully the team cars have some hot drinks in there because the riders are going to need it.
With less than 50km to go and the gap to over four minutes, now is probably to take a look at the favourites from the breakaway group - if they are able to succeed. I think that Michael Woods is probably the biggest threat in this group. He's more than 40 minutes down overall, so the peloton won't be too concerned with him. He won a brutally tough stage of the Vuelta a Espana in 2018 and was going well ahead of this year's race.
Guillaume Martin will be annoyed with losing our yesterday and a climb like the one to Formigal suits him very nicely. He's got the added bonus of potentially taking the mountains classification if he can finish high up on today's stage.
Of course, both the Izagirre brothers are a serious threat if the breakaway are given the chance to contest the win. Could they mount a dual attack? Gorka has the most to gain from a strong finish today and he's shown he's in decent form, though he hasn't been capable of sticking with the main GC contenders.
Sergio Henao hasn't put in any prime performances so far this season but he is is still one of the strongest climbers in this breakaway. Mattia Cattaneo is just ahead of Henao in the overall classification. He has not had much in the way of racing in the build up to this race and could be much fresher than some of the others in this front group.
38.3km to go
Onto the descent of the Cotefablo and the gap to the escapees has been brought back to a more manageable 3:34. There's an intermediate sprint at the bottom of the descent and then it's onto Formigal.
Guillaume Martin took the points again at the top of the climb. He's now cut his deficit to Wellens to four points.
Going back to the potential contenders from the breakaway, I cannot miss Carlos Verona. The Spaniard finished third on a stage in the Tour de France earlier this year. One last rider to watch out for is former world champion Rui Costa, though his teammate Henao is probably a safer bet from the UAE Team Emirates squad.
Gorka Izagirre is riding the descent as he did on the last one, pulling out a small gap of 20 seconds on the other escapees. In the peloton, Ineos is pushing really hard with Amador.
30km to go
It's hard not to feel a little nervous watching Izagirre descend in these conditions. He seems determined to give himself a headstart going into this climb and make as much time on the peloton. He has 25 seconds on the breakaway and 3:33 on the peloton.
Ineos is really hammering it on the descent and putting the other GC contenders under pressure. Amador is leading them down with Carapaz in his wheel. Meanwhile, Izagirre is going great guns and has a 40=second gap on the other escapees.
As a Basque rider, Izagirre will be well used to these sorts of conditions. Still, it is interesting that he has decided to branch out quite so early. Will he be able to hold it or will he be caught? He has a 45-second advantage as he passes through the intermediate sprint. The final climb is almost upon us.
The climb to Formigal is 14.4km with an average gradient of 4.7%.
Some attacks are now coming from the front of the chase group and the gap to Izagirre is coming back a touch. He has 36 seconds on the group behind, which is being led by Martin.
Before the stage started, Primoz Roglic was expecting a fast day out and he wasn't wrong.
“I just feel good. It’s nice to see all the support and also the people respecting the rules and wearing the mask. For sure, it’s a first in the history of cycling but on the other hand we can still be really lucky that at least we have the race and we can show some hope to the world. I just expect full gas racing. I already said that yesterday but it’s even more the case today, before the rest day. And because of the possibility of bad weather, I think everyone will decide to come to the finish line as fast as possible. It’s an uphill finish and it will be super important for us. So for me and our team we just try to keep our role and see how its goes”.
Izagirre is still holding a a 34-second lead over the chasers. The group behind is no longer working tofether as multiple attacks come off the front.
Meanwhile, it looks like Roglic has had a mechanical issue. He's off the back of the peloton and chasing hard.
Roglic is back in the group now and he's making his way up towards the front of what is left of the peloton.
20km to go
Izagirre has slowed dramatically and his advantage is just 16 seconds now. The time back to the main group is 3:09.
Race radio is reporting that Roglic was 20 seconds back on the bunch. No news on what the problem was for the red jersey.
17km to go
There's been so much climing but the official ascent hasn't even started yet. The rain still hammering it down and spraying up off the wheels of bikes and cars.
Izagirre is still holding court at the front of the race. Meanwhile, some of the escapees are beginning to be caught by the peloton. Home rider Arcas is now back with the Movistar-led bunch.
The chasing group has been reduced to about nine riders. It's difficult to see exactly who is in there through the rain.
I can see Martin, Henaeo, Woods, Costa and Van Baarle in the chasing group.
Lafray and Perichon have been brought back to the peloton, which is 2:53 behind Izagirre.
Izagirre is still hanfing on very well as they hit the lower slopes of the Formigal climb. He has 13 seconds on the chasers, which he can see behind him.
11.9km to go
It's still possible that the breakaway could be caught. If one of the GC riders puts in a big attack, they could well catch those in front. The gap is coming down ever so slowly to 2:42.
Movistar is still leading the peloton, which has about 30 riders left in it.
A few more riders have joined the chasing group behind Izagirre. There are now about 11 riders in there.
There has been an attack from the breakaway group. It looks like it could be Cattaneo.
He's been brought back, while Izagirre has been able to extend his lead to 17 seconds.
9.7km to go
Ion Izagirre is still in that chasing group and I wonder if there might be more to stifle the group as it seeks to catch his brother.
8.9km to go
The leaders are onto a flatter portion of this climb, which will feel like a bit of respite after today's racing. It won't last for long and the road will go back up again soon.
Ion Izagirre has moved further up the chasing group and he does seem to be slowing the chase a little bit. All it needs is a short slowing of the pace as you take your turn on the front and it disrupts the chase. Gorka Izagirre still has 13 seconds. He's doing a great job of just holding on, for now.
7.7km to go
The peloton is still 2:30 behind the leader and it looks like they might let this breakaway go all of the way.
The wet and cold may play an role in the finale for the leaders and the peloton. Those that haven't coped with the conditions as well as others could find themselves unable to respond to attacks and losing time.
The Giro d'Italia has just finished and if you want to find out what happened then click here.
After so long on his own, Izagirre has been brought back by the chasing group.
5.4km to go
David de la Cruz has attacked from the peloton. He has two teammates up front to help him out if he can take a gap.
As the pace in the peloton increases, the gap to the escapees has dropped to 1:47.
4.2km to go
Another attack from the peloton as Gaudu and Armirail go together.
Gorka Izagirre has been dropped from the breakaway group, which has 11 riders in it. His brother Ion is still up there.
Soler has also attacked and he's closing in on Gaudu, Armirail and De la Cruz, who is just a little further up the road.
Lots of attacks coming now. Chaves has gone and Carthy is chasing after him. De la Cruz has been caught by the FDJ pair and Soler.
Ion Izagirre now attacks from the breakaway group. Costa is chasing.
Van Baarle has been dropped from the leading group.
Roglic has been distanced as the peloton blows up on the climb. It's hard to tell exaclty who is where because of the conditions. It's horrible out there.
2.2km to go
Ion Izagirre has a decent gap now, the chasing group is in bits and pieces.
Izagirre has 19 seconds on the chasing group, which has Woods and Costa in there.
Carapaz has attacked from the peloton and is up with De La Cruz. Roglic has lost about 15 seconds on the Ineos rider. Dan Martin is with Roglic
Roglic is really suffering and he has been dropped by Dan Martin. This is a battle for the Sloenian. Meanwhile, Carapaz has the bit between his teeth. The gap is now 30 seconds between Carapaz and Roglic.
Roglic has caught Mas but he's still losing time on Carapaz.
Amid all of that Ion Izagirre is about to cross the line and take the stage win.
He has a huge gap on the chasers and has plenty of time to celebrate as he crosses the line.
Woods attacks from the chasing group to take second place ahead of Costa.
Carthy has attacked from the Carapaz group and crosses the line about six seconds ahead of Carapaz.
Roglic crosses the line and he has lost about 40 seconds.
We wait for the official results but Carapaz should be in red after that.
It's rare to see Roglic have a really bad day but he did have one today. He'll be glad for the rest day tomorrow.
This is how it finished at the pointy end of the stage
1 Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 3:41:00
2 Michael Woods (Can) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:25
3 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:25
4 Rob Power (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:00:27
5 Michael Valgren (Den) NTT Pro Cycling 0:00:27
6 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 0:00:27
7 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:38
8 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:48
9 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:53
10 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:55
And this is what it looks like in the overall classification. Roglic has dropped off the podium after that.
1 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 24:34:39
2 Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:18
3 Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00:20
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:30
5 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:07
6 Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:30
7 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:42
8 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 0:02:02
9 David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 0:02:46
Once again, the Formigal has provided us with another dramatic day of racing. It might not have been 2016, but the weather today threw a real spanner in the works. Carapaz and Carthy faired the best of the overall contenders in these conditions.
You can find today's results, report and pictures here.
🙌¡Menudo etapón, Ion! / Hats off, Mr. Izagirre! 😲🔥 @AstanaTeam 📸: @PhotoGomezSport #LaVuelta20 pic.twitter.com/dtRgWMXQcdOctober 25, 2020
This is what stage winner Ion Izagirre had to say at the finish.
"Today was a very difficult day due to the weather we had. We knew it but we also knew that tomorrow was a rest and today we could go all out. It was a very large breakaway, we had teams with three riders. In the end Gorka went on the attack and took a few seconds. I had the strength to go at the end and thanks to Gorka, who was able to guide me a bit and keep me calm. In the end I was able to finish it off.
"You never know, there were only three kilometers to go but they were the hardest. The stage was very hard due to the weather. I saw a bit of uncertainty and decided to give it my all to the finish ”.
This is what Carapaz had to say after taking hold of the red jersey:
"We have been working very well this week, we have been performing well and today we had a go. We have done very well, and this is the reward for the whole team. I spoke with Andrey, we handled ourselves very well in the rain, the intention was to do the descent a bit fast and see how he were in the final.
"And well, we gave more than one scare and that encouraged Movistar to pull in the end. I knew the end of the stage and to begin with I let others who were interested do a bit. There were many attacks. I had calculated the distance and I attacked at the right time. There is still a lot of the Vuelta and we are going to defend it, it is a luxury to be able to defend it."
After the absolute soaking they got today, the riders will be very happy for the rest day tomorrow. The race will resume with another trip into the mountains in this typically brutal Vuelta a Espana.
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