A stage for one star.
Alberto Contador of Trek-Segafredo put on a show during stage six’s run from Vilas to Sagunt. On a medium mountain day in the Vuelta a Espana with five climbs, the Spaniard waiting until the final one, the Puerto del Garbi, to take center stage.,
His teammate Peter Stetina provided the launch pad and with 40 kilometers to go, Contador started dancing on the pedals. It was a display of deja vu as he put in a series of hard accelerations that shredded the peloton and dumped GC hopefuls like Esteban Chavez (Orica-Scott) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) out the back.
Contador succeeded to doing what has been lost impossible in the Tour de France in the last few Sky-dominated years: he broke apart the Sky escort, stripping Froome of teammates except for Wout Pouls, who yo-yo’d up and back down.
It was vintage Contador, aggressive and bold and a “watch-me-one-more-time” farewell to his fans in Spain and around the world. He attacked at 40.5k, 40.3k, 40k, 39.3k, 38.8k. When his teammate Jarlinson Pantano was no longer around to help force the pace, Contador kept the pressure on with 36k to the finish.
“I wanted to do the climbs in a high pace because I knew some of the rivals would have to pay for that. I was not mad at Froome, I just analyzed the race situation and noticed that he didn’t put any effort to take time on any of the other riders behind,” said Contador. “If there had been more collaboration, I am sure we could have made bigger differences, but of course, everybody defines his own race goals and has his own race tactics.”
The potential difference was all for nought other than the panache and the flying bullets. Froome stuck to his wheel, Chavez and Nibali and Yates came back, and the flat run into Sagunt was the end that fireworks. Up front, Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal)Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) battled for the win with Marczynski scoring the cava.
Contador proved he was back in the race, if only to blow it apart. He’d crawled up the GC to 23rd place, three minutes and ten ticks off leader Chris Froome. It appears this will the be role that the Spaniard will play in this Vuelta: loose cannon, wild card, shit disturber, Froome annoyance.
It that’s his show, it’s still a pretty entertaining one. “The important thing is that it has been a beautiful stage and that there are still a lot of those ahead of us,” said Contador. Yes, please, let the show go on for it closes permanently in two weeks in Madrid.