Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha had a few kicks more in his legs than rival Chris Froome of SKy on the final uphill sprint to win stage 6 of the Vuelta a España in Jaca. Froome led out a pack of elite contenders in the steep final 500 meters of the stage, and only Rodriguez, the overall leader, could follow -- not Alejandro Valverde, not Alberto Contador, not Nicholas Roche, not defending champion JJ Cobo. But Rodriguez is the absolute master of the uphill sprint, and when Froome in the lead paused to position Rodriguez in front for the last 200 meters, Rodriguez pounced and Froome was left scrambling, finishing five seconds behind.
Froome might be disappointed in the result after committing his team to setting the pace for much of the last 30 minutes, but his long-term prospects have brightened considerably. He now owns a 25 second lead overall on Alberto Contador, his closest threat for the final classification (Rodriguez will lose minutes, not seconds, to Froome in next week's time trial). Valverde and Contador also looked a little sluggish in the withering heat, unable to muster a sprint for the line and losing precious seconds. But it's still week one and the spreads are nothing unusual for a first week. Who can climb the bigger mountains that lay ahead will ultimately mean more than today's appetizer. Results:
- Joaquim Rodriguez, Katusha
- Chris Froome, Sky, at 0.05
- Alejandro Valverde, Movistar, at 0.10
- Alberto Contador, Saxo Tinkoff, at 0.18
- Eros Capecchi, Liquigas, s.t.
- Rigoberto Uran, Sky, s.t.
- Rinaldo Nocentini, AG2R, at 0.25
- Mauro Santambrogio, BMC, at 0.27
- Nicholas Roche, AG2R, at 0.28
- Robert Gesink, Rabobank, at 0.32
GC now stands:
- Froome, at 0.10
- Contador, at 0.35
- Uran, at 0.41
- Gesink, at 0.53
- Valverde, at 0.54
- Roche, at 1.04
- Bauke Mollema, Rabobank, at 1.12
- Dani Moreno, Katusha, at 1.17
- JJ Cobo, Movistar, at 1.34