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Vuelta a España: Museo del Jamon Report - Stage 6
 
By Locutus
Date: 9/9/2004
Vuelta a España: Museo del Jamon Report - Stage 6
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Oscar Freire (Rabobank). It wasn't easy – he had to make it over three climbs today – but the work was worth it. With T-Mobile losing so many riders, it was up to Rabobank and Cofidis to do the chasing. The RaboBoys rose to the occasion, closing down a gap of over 8' and setting up their big gun. Freire was in the right position in the sprint, sitting just behind Zabel and O'Grady so that he could come around in the last 200 meters. He won the stage by a wheel, and for the Rabobank squad, it was mission accomplished. Freire now sits in 3rd in the points competition only 5 points behind O'Grady, and must now be considered a favorite for the Blue and Yellow Jersey.
  • "The Big E-Z" Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) and Stuart "Red Stallion" O'Grady (Cofidis). These two were the other big sprinters who made it through the climbs with their sprints intact. Zabel took second on the stage, but the fact that he did it while losing yet another teammate to food poisoning speaks volumes about his skill and form. For his part, O'Grady broke out his teammates in defense of his Blue and Yellow Jersey (a.k.a. the Fishy Shirt), with Bingen "F-Bomb" Fernandez and his mates blazing a trail through the final several kilometers. O'Grady took 3rd on the stage, but he maintained a 4 point lead over Zabel to keep the Fishy Shirt for one more day.
  • Francisco "Neck Brace" Mancebo (Illes Balears – Banesto). The Spanish Champion took maximum points on the final climb of the day to claim the lead in the mountains competition. He's been chasing the mountains points in earnest, and it looks like he's serious about wearing that Magenta Jersey in Madrid. With the ride he put in during this year's Tour, he showed that he's very capable of pulling it off.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) and Max Van Heeswijk (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). These two big sprinters couldn't keep up with the front group on the climbs and finished 8' 29" back. Tomorrow there are only two climbs (a Cat 3 and a Cat 2), and they end much further from the finish. This should give these two flatlanders more time to try and catch back on to the front group to contest the sprint tomorrow.
  • Danilo DiLuca (Saeco). Something is clearly wrong with DiLuca. Today he finished in 177th at 12' 54". He must be either sick or injured, or perhaps he's just suffering through terrible form. Whatever the reason, this is not the powerful attack-happy DiLuca we've become accustomed to over the past few years. Here's hoping he can get it together quickly to liven up the race.
 
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