The longest stage of the Vuelta a Espana saw UAE Team Emirates take their first stage win out of the day’s breakaway courtesy of Matej Mohoric. For the second time in a row Pawel Poljanski of Bora-Hansgrohe took second place with Jose Joaquin Rojas of Movistar in third.
At 207km in length the journey from Lliria to Cuenca. Ciudad Patrimonio de la Humanidad was the longest but thankfully not the toughest of the Vuelta a Espana’s stages. At 207km long the stage was very rolling and naturally very enticing for a breakaway. Possibly the most elite breakaway proceeded to form of the race so far with second placed rider in stage 6 – Pawel Poljanski of Bora-Hansgrohe – once again on the attack along with Alessandro De Marchi of BMC Racing, Jose Joaquin Rojas of Movistar, Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal, Luis Angel Mate of Cofidis, Alexis Gougeard of AG2R La Mondiale and of course Matej Mohoric of UAE Team Emirates all in the move that contained 14 riders in all.
Thomas De Gendt, as was his custom in breakaways in the Tour de France, set about mopping up king of the mountain points as the breakaway finally enjoyed a significant amount of freedom from the peloton. Team Sky were once again on the front of the field, but this time very happy to allow the break’s lead to grow to more than 7 minutes. The most drama in the main field sadly involved Aaron Gate’s Aqua Blue Sport teammate Larry Warbasse. The American national champion was brought down in a crash along with Dimension Data’s Merhawi Kudus and Cofidis rider Anthony Turgis; with the former two forced to abandon the race.
Knowing that the stage honours would unquestionably be decided among the still very numerous breakaway, Thomas De Gendt opened up the attacks with 23km left to race. But it would be an attack from Mohoric which would fracture the leading group and ultimately play the biggest role in deciding the stage. Mohoric’s attack originally saw Gougeard try to go with him, but he dropped back, leaving Mohoric to go alone until eventually Rojas, Poljanski and De Gendt joined him.
With 14km remaining Mohoric made another move as the race entered Cuenca. On the cobbled section the UAE Team Emirates rider attacked and then consolidated his lead on the descent to time trial away from the rest of his breakaway companions. Mohoric ultimately simply proved too strong for the chasers, and though Poljanski, Rojas and De Gendt continued to chase, their efforts were in vain as Mohoric held a 10 second lead with 3km to go and edged it out to a 16 second advantage by the time the race reached its end.
Over the course of the next 2.40mins the breakaway proceeded to roll home before Team Sky led home the processional peloton 8.38mins in arrears.
In the general classification battle Chris Froome, Esteban Chaves and Nicolas Roche maintained their top three positions overall, while the only change in the top 10 was Jetse Bol of Manzana Postobon entering the top 10 and leaping from 32nd overall to 7th. Bol had been in the break of the day and crossed the line 7th on the stage. Sam Bewley of Orica-SCOTT, Aaron Gate of Aqua Blue Sport, George Bennett of LottoNL-Jumbo and Tom Scully of Cannondale-Drapac all finished in the same large group that crossed the line a few minutes behind the Team Sky-led peloton.