Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) climbed back into the red jersey on stage six of the Vuelta a Espana, claiming his second stage win of this year’s race in Sierra de Cazorla.
Riding in the white combination jersey, after losing the race lead by a single second on stage five, Chaves attacked with little more than 2km of the category-three climb remaining.
And with Britain’s Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka), the last remaining rider in the breakaway, grinding to a halt, the Colombian pressed clear despite a spirited chase from race leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).
Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) made a late bid to bridge across, but his effort came just too late as Chaves ensured he will start the first high-mountain stage in red by putting five seconds into Martin and Dumoulin.
The peloton went flat out from the gun on the long, undulating stage with the end product being no riders – despite multiple attempts – being able to get an advantage.
Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), in the green jersey, were both in breaks that got quickly brought back and it took until 60km for a move to form.
Britain’s Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka), a Tour de France stage winner last month, was in the move alongside stage one red jersey winner Peter Velits (BMC Racing).
The dangerous move also included Dutch champion Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep), Cyril Gautier (Team Europcar) and Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), though again it took some time for them to escape the attention of the peloton.
Colombia and LottoNL-Jumbo, who had both missed the move, led the chase but slowly – thanks to the firepower they boasted – the break got clear.
Miguel Angel Rubiano (Colombia) chased and, despite crashing on the way, was able to get across to the leaders and the six riders opened up a lead of 4’30” before Giant-Alpecin took control of the bunch behind them.
With Movistar and Europcar also putting riders on the front, the gap tumbled very quickly, however, and stood at just 30 seconds when they hit the intermediate sprint just outside the 13km to go mark.
Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida) took a tumble in the peloton, but Movistar’s momentum was not halted on the front.
With the neutral service cars pulled out of the gap between the bunch and break, the attacking started on the front and, after Rubiano’s initial attack, Cummings burst clear to stretch the gap out again.
Terpstra followed at a distance, but the remnants of the break were otherwise swept up just inside the ten kilometres to go mark.
Cummings’ advantage, as he showed his time trialling prowess, went out to more than 50 seconds as his team-mates moved up in the bunch behind him.
With Terpstra unable to get across, the Brit had to do it alone up the road, but his gap held steady until Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) upped the ante in the peloton.
Orica-GreenEDGE rode hard onto the final climb too, as Chaves bolted off the front with two kilometres to go.
As the road ramped up again, Chaves passed Cummings – whose efforts saw him grind almost to a halt.
With Chaves up the road, Dumoulin put in a big dig with 1600m to go – and a 12-second deficit – as he fought to keep his jersey.
Dumoulin could not get across on the flatter section, however, and was caught by Dan Martin as the Irishman made his own attempt to get across.
Chaves’ lead proved insurmountable, however, and the Orica-GreenEDGE man claimed victory – his team’s third in six days.
Vuelta a Espana 2015: stage six – result
1) Johan Esteban Chabes (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 4.46.16hrs
2) Dan Martin (IRL) – Cannondale-Garmin +5”
3) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin – ST
4) Ruben Plaza (ESP) – Lampre-Merida +11”
5) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar – ST
6) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha
7) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky
8) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo
9) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar
10) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Team Sky
1) Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 21.55.13hrs
2) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Alpecin +10”
3) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Cannondale-Garmin +33”
4) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – Team Sky +36”
5) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +49”
6) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +55”
7) Daniel Moreno (ESP) – Katusha – ST
8) Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) – Katusha +56”
9) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +57”
10) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +1.12