Thomas Marczynski (Lotto-Soudal) won stage six of the Vuelta a Espana from the breakaway, as Chris Froome (Team Sky) withstood a day of five categorised climbs and counter-attacks to maintain the overall race lead.
Marczynski edged out compatriot Pawel Poljanski (Bora-hansgrohe) and Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) on the line to claim the 204.4km stage from Vila Real to Sagunto.
On the last climb of the day, Alberto Contador accelerated and subsequently blew the race to pieces as he linked up with Pantano up the road. On the steep gradients, Contador managed to drop some rivals but was unable to drop Froome.
As the red jersey group closed the gap to the breakaway, Fabio Aru (Astana) managed to regain contact with Froome alongside Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrian-Merida) who had found themselves in difficulty on the climb.
Marczynski, 33, has been Polish champion twice as well as winning the 2015 Tour du Maroc and added a grand tour stage win to those achievements by edging compatriot Pawel Poljanski and Spaniard Enric Mas to the finish line in a three-man sprint.
“I came here really wanting to win a stage and to do it so soon is amazing,” Marczynski told reporters.
“The last ascent, we climbed really fast. We got to the final with two and then a few others came into town. Then we were all looking at each other, but I said, ‘I’m not going to let any attack go without me. If I don’t have enough strength in the final, so be it, but I’m going to give it my all’.
“Since I’d been in the breakaway all day, I had to take advantage of the opportunity. It all worked out in the end.”
Vuelta a Espana 2017 – stage 6 results (Vila-Real – Sagunt):
|1||Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal)|
|2||Pawel Poljanski (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|3||Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors)|
|4||Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana)|
|5||Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates)|
|6||Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb)|
|7||Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain Merida)|
|8||Chris Froome (Team Sky)|
|9||Fabrio Aru (Astana)|
|10||Jack Haig (Orica-Scott)|
|11||Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar)|
|12||Nicolas Roche (BMC)|
|13||Adam Yates (Orica-Scott)|
|14||Wout Poels (Team Sky)|
|15||Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott)|
|16||Ricardo Vilela (Manzana Postobon)|
|17||Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida)|
|18||Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)|
|19||Daniel Navarro (Cofidis)|
|20||Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin)|
General classification after stage 6:
|1||Chris Froome (Team Sky)|
|2||Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott)|
|3||Nicolas Roche (BMC)|
|4||Tejay Van Garderen (BMC)|
|5||Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida)|
|6||David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors)|
|7||Fabio Aru (Astana)|
|8||Adam Yates (Orica-Scott)|
|9||Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac)|
|10||Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)|
|11||Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)|
|12||Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|13||Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb)|
|14||Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb)|
|15||Jack Haig (Orica-Scott)|
|16||Wout Poels (Team Sky)|
|17||Igor Anton (Dimension Data)|
|18||Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates)|
|19||Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates)|
|20||Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNl-Jumbo)|