By Graham Jones
and Barry Boyce

CyclingRevealed Historian


Images © Unipublic


Also read:

La Vuelta: A Colorful & Caliente History

Vuelta a Espana Champions Living and Dead

Vuelta Travelogue - Quintessential Spain

Stage 6, September 1st, Cuenca to E. E. Aramón Valdelinares, 217 km

First Taste of Altitude

Leaving La Mancha behind the riders head for one of the great playgrounds of Europe, the Catalan coast. First however the route from Cuenca brings the first taste of altitude with the stage finish at the top of Valdelineares ski resort. The climb itself is 8.6 km with an average gradient of 6.5% to finish at 2,000 meters. Two Category 2 climbs (at 93kms and 175kms) precede the finish but overall the stage is not expected to cause great concern to those looking to the overall win. It will be more a case of “prodding” to see who is not on form. Although the climb is new to the Vuelta, it has been a major feature in the Vuelta a Aragón for many years.

Departure City of Cuenca

Huge crowds in Cuenca bid the riders farewell as the race snakes its way through the narrow streets on the neutral-start zones. Once the starter's flag dropped a flurry of activity saw small groups gain a few seconds, but nothing serious escaped the peloton until CSC's Jacob Piil broke away from a 7 rider group. He became the “virtual race leader” on the road when his advantage grew to 5'45”.

CSC's Jacob Piil leads the breakaway ( Image © Unipublic )

The Comuntat Valenciana team drove the chase as the peloton began to split, but Piil maintained his lead. Over the Category 2 Alto de San Rafael Liberty Seguros came the front of the chasing peloton and put race leader Brad McGee in difficulty.

Liberty Seguros delivers Heras to the final climb ( Image © Unipublic )

Piil is the first to the base of the final climb, the Alto de Valdelinares, and at the 6 km to go banner has a 2'25” lead. Liberty continued the pressure as the peloton shrinks in numbers. Three kilometers from the finish Liberty 's Roberto Heras attacked with Denis Menchov and Carlos Garcia-Quesada holding his wheel.

akob Piil is caught at the 2 km banner by Heras and Menchov. As the road gets steeper Heras accelerates gaining precious seconds on Menchov. The Liberty Seguros rider crosses the finish line 12 second in front of Menchov for the stage win. With the time bonus Roberto Heras takes the race lead and the Golden Jersey.

Heras, stage winner and new race leader ( Images © Unipublic )


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