Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education -Nippo) won stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana, after being in a 5-man breakaway that also included Bert-Jan Lindeman from Team Qhubeka NextHash.
Stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana got off to a fast start with many riders attacking in the opening 30 kilometers of the stage. Dimitri Claeys and Sergio Henao were both very active for Team Qhubeka NextHash but their moves were both brought back.
Eventually, after around an hour of racing, 2 riders would go clear before 3 more would ride across to the duo, making it a strong 5-rider group up the road. Bert-Jan Lindeman was part of the move for Team Qhubeka NextHash, this was despite suffering with some discomfort in his left knee which had 5 stitches after he was involved in the mass crash yesterday.
The leading group worked well together and opened a gap of just over 6 minutes to the peloton. Just when it seemed the breakaway would be allowed to contest the stage, Team BikeExchange decided to start chasing them down. The gap quickly dropped to 3-minutes before stabilizing once again.
Coming into the final 35km of the 158km stage, the race headed through some open and exposed rice fields where crosswinds were blowing. The main bunch sped up through this section which created some splits and also further reduced the gap to the front 5.
Team Qhubeka NextHash did well to keep Fabio Aru protected in the wind, and in the front part of the peloton, with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg doing a fine job in particular. Up front, Lindeman continued to fight on with his fellow escapees, arriving at the foot of the very steep final 2km climb to the line, with just 35″ lead on the peloton.
Nielsen proved to be the strongest as an acceleration from him just before the kilometres to go sign distanced everyone except Lindeman. The steep ramp was relentless though, and our Dutchman eventually faltered with just 500m to go and was caught and passed by the GC riders who had attacked from the peloton.
Nielsen just hung on to take an impressive stage win, with Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) hot on his heels, crossing the line in 2nd and on the same time as the winner. Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-Quickstep) was 3rd on the stage.
Fabio Aru put in a strong performance given the explosive and punchy nature of the final climb. He finished 16th on the stage and in doing so, climbed up to 10th place on the overall general classification.
Lindeman’s brave effort was certainly a major highlight of the stage though.
We discussed with the team this morning that it could be quite a good opportunity today, as the break had a possibility to go all the way to the finish. We tried really hard with the whole team but luckily I was the guy that managed to get into the break. Magnus was just that little bit too strong for me. Yesterday I had the crash so I don’t think that helped me much but we will keep on trying. There is a great atmosphere at the race, with fans again, good weather and our team is also really good so I’m looking forward to the next stages.Bert-Jan Lindeman