By Graham Jones
and Barry Boyce

CyclingRevealed Historian



Also read:

La Vuelta: A Colorful
& Caliente History

Vuelta a Espana Champions
Living and Dead









Vuelta Travelogue - Anticipation and Trepidation

Stage 6, August 31st, Zamora to León, 155 km

"Their Baaack..." Minus 1

Back to the flat lands today, not a single categorized climb as the race traverses the Castilla- León region over the Meseta Plateau. This region is often prone to strong winds. The race typically responds to this barren landscape by breaking up into a series of ‘bordures' that stretch from one side of the road to the other. It will be difficult for a small breakaway to succeed and we should be treated to a great bunch sprint finish.

How to ride the bordures!

Zamora , known as the "City of the Romans", is set on the banks of the River Duero and right on the Via de la Plata (Silver Road ) route. León, known as the "City of Happiness" by the pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela, traces an extensive history visible with Romanic, Mudejar, Gothic and Plateresque artistic treasures. In the middle ages the city was the capital of an important Christian Kingdom and still surviving from that time is a 13th Century cathedral modeled on the great Gothic cathedrals of France and noted for its well-crafted stained glass window.

13th Century cathedral modeled on the great Gothic cathedrals of France ( Image © Unipublic )

The race entourage unfortunately has little time to enjoy these Spanish treasures. There is serious work at hand and today great concentration will be needed to ensure arrival with the leading elements of the race. It is frighteningly easy to be tailed off at the wrong end of a bordure or pace line. The wide open roads and merciless wind can open up huge gaps very quickly.

The action started early when Bouygues Telecom's Walter Beneteau attacked as the starter's flag dropped. When Beneteau was caught teammate Mathieu Claude countered and opened a 9'40” lead before sprint teams began the chase in earnest.

Evrybody want to play ( Image © Unipublic )

As the leader's advantage began to tumble Liquigas drove the chase through the lighter than expected winds. Claude's breakaway was finished just short of the final intermediate sprint at Mansilla De Las Mulas, 20 km from Leon .

After Liquigas brought back several late attacks, the Milram train lead out the sprints at 3 km mark. Under the 1 km flag Petacchi and Marco Velo led Zabel to the line, but the late charge of Credit Agricole Thor Hushovd won the stage. T-Mobile's Andre Greipel was second, Erik Zabel third.

Points Jersey leader Hushovd win the stage ( Image © Unipublic )

Sadly the sprint was missing Aussie Robbie McEwen, who was DQ'd by the time cut-off at the top of La Covatilla on stage 5, but the revelation of the sprint was a recovering Alessandro Petacchi's fourth place finish. The return of the sprinters will be brief as the Vuelta heads for the stage 7 finish on the category 1 climb of El Morredero.


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Vuelta a Espana 06
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