Result: RED JERSEY LEADER Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain (Katusha) took another few seconds out of his general classification rivals with a brilliant climb to win Thursday’s sixth stage from Tarazona to Jaca.
Christopher Froome (Sky) was five seconds back in second with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) a further five adrift in third.
Here’s how it happened: Joaquim Rodriguez underlined his credentials in the race for red as he outlasted his GC rivals in the final sprint to Jacona.
The early stage of the race was dominated by a five-man breakaway with Belgium’s Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil) the most determined of the bunch. Working in tandem, Movistar and Katusha began to up the pace in pursuit and clawed back a gap which was at its largest at 4:20 with 50 kilometres to go.
De Gendt was the last to succumb, swallowed up by the peloton five kilometres from the finish line, an effort which earned him the day’s fighting spirit award. From there, it was all about maintaining position ahead of the sprint to the line and when Olympic silver medallist Rigoberto Uran darted with a few hundred metres remaining, Froome and Rodriguez wasted no time in responding.
It was the Spaniard who prevailed, beating Froome to the line by five seconds. Valverde was a further five seconds back in third while pre-race favourite Alberto Contador pushed hard to finish but still lost 19 seconds on Rodriguez.
Who’s wearing what colour?
- Red (general classification): Joaquim Rodriguez
- Green (points): John Degenkolb
- Blue dots (mountains): Simon Clarke
- White (all-round): Joaquim Rodriguez
How did Nico do? Another brilliant ride by Roche who, not for the first time this week, must have fancied himself at one point to challenge for the stage win. He finished ninth, 28 seconds behind Rodriguez, to move up one place to seventh in the GC standings.
What happens tomorrow then? The peloton is back on the flat for stage seven, a 160-kilometre stretch from Heusca to Alcaniz.