The heavy rain and inclement weather on stage six of the Vuelta a España certainly brought the drama.
Pico del Jano made its debut on the Spanish Grand Tour and ignited the first major general classification showdown of the 2022 edition of the race.
REMCO IS READY
After some sterling work from his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl teammates on the Collada de Brenes, Evenepoel hit the nuclear button on the Pico del Jano to accelerate off into the mist in search of Mark Padun (EF Education-EasyPost).
Evenepoel’s tempo was so strong that only Enric Mas (Movistar) was capable of following the Belgian. However, the 22-year-old was visibly frustrated at Mas’ refusal to take a turn on the front of his group. Even though the stage win didn’t come, Evenepoel’s performance was a huge show of force with multiple big mountain stages still to come and taking the red jersey was impressive.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was distanced along with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), which came as a surprise.
It does not just rain on the plain in Spain
The rain would not stop coming on a chaotic day of racing. Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) took the victory on a soaking wet day which meant the television cameras struggled to pick him up at times.
More often than not, the Vuelta is known for baking hot and dry days in locations like the Sierra Nevada. However stage six proved that the weather can get pretty grim in Northern Spain in particular.
The rain made for a terrifying descent from the penultimate climb of the day.
Riders were visibly soaked through at the end of the stage. Soigneurs were frantically trying to peel riders out of their drenched kit in a desperate attempt to get them warm again.
MARK PADUN HAS STILL GOT IT
Yesterday was Ukraine’s national day and Mark Padun (EF Education-EasyPost) belatedly continued the celebrations in the mountains of the Cantabria region.
After winning the mountains classification along with two stages at the 2021 Critérium du Dauphiné, Padun quickly became a cycling sensation and was widely thought of as an exciting young climber. The Ukrainian rider then moved to the Jonathan Vaughters run EF Education-EasyPost team for the 2022 season and showed that he’s still got it for when the road goes uphill.
Padun spent the majority of stage six in the breakaway and was certainly not phased by the weather. On the narrow roads of the Collada de Brenes he calmly lifted the tempo and disappeared into the distance.
JUMBO-VISMA PREPARED TO PLAY THE LONG GAME
There were no Jumbo-Visma riders present on the front of the peloton for the majority of the final two climbs.
After winning the team time trial in the Netherlands the Dutch squad took possession of the red jersey. However on stage five they seemed more than willing to concede the overall lead to Frenchman Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ).
Roglič was distanced on the Pico del Jano by a rampaging Evenepoel and had very little support from his teammates in the Spanish rain. After the stage the Slovenian seemed his usual calm and collected self and didn’t seem too phased by the red jersey moving to a fellow overall contender; but it should raise the alarm.
ALAPHILIPPE IS ALL IN FOR REMCO
Remco Evenepoel will owe his teammate and the reigning world champion, Julian Alaphilippe, a beer after his gargantuan efforts on the rainy afternoon.
Alaphilippe came into the Vuelta with the aim of targeting stages as well as supporting his team leader Evenepoel. On the Collada de Brenes it became apparent that the latter is still in the Frenchman’s mind.
The Frenchman put in a remarkable climbing performance to set a fierce tempo on the penultimate climb which shredded the group of favourites and many big names were distanced.
Even with the World Championships on the horizon in Australia, Alaphilippe showed that he is more than willing to sacrifice himself if it means he can help his Belgian teammate win a first Grand Tour in Spain.