Great performance for Joaquim Rodriguez: ‘Purito’ was able to win the 6th stage of “Vuelta a Espana”, being the fastest in Fuerte del Rapitan with a great rush with 200 meters to go. Second place for Christopher Froome (Sky), 5” ahead; while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) completed the podium, 10” behind. Fourth place for Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank – Tinkoff), with a gap of 18”. Thanks to this performance, Rodriguez extended the race lead: now Froome is 10” far, while Contador is third 35” behind. The stage, from Tarazona to Jaca, 175 kilometers long, was characterized by a five-man breakaway: Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), Martin Maaksant (Garmin-Barracuda), Joost Van Leijen (Lotto Belisol) and Kristof Vandewalle (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) left the group and took a highest gap of 4′. De Gendt was the last one to give up to the chase: the Belgian rider tried a solo attack that was neutralized with less than 4 kilometers to go, right after the start of the last climbing, Fuerte del Rapitan. With less than 1 kilometer to go, just the four favorite riders were fighting for the daily win: Rodriguez, Contador, Froome and Valverde, but the pace kept by ‘Purito’ and Froome was impossible for their rivals. With 200 meters to go, the leader of Katusha Team passed the Sky rider and went to take a comfortable solo win.
“Today’s stage was really hard and unpredictable – said Rodriguez – I didn’t know the pace we were going to keep and how many riders could fight for win: moreover, all the teams were very organized and tried to do their best in order to win. Anyways in the final part we made a huge selection because of the great speed, so a few riders left: I knew it because Vicioso went to see this stage before and told me it was suitable to my characteristics, so I slipstreamed Froome and waited until 200 meters to go. Then I was able to pass him and win at the final rush. I’m very happy about this performance: I feel in a very good shape, and the fact that my team is more or less the same as in ‘Giro d’Italia’ makes me feel confident about my chances. Moreover, there’s Denis Menchov which gives me a great help with his experience. My rivals are very good: especially Froome proved to be strong after a great ‘Tour de France’. But I feel very well and I want to keep this red jersey”.