Vuelta A España 2023: Sepp Kuss Wins Stage 6 in Thrilling Return to the Mountains

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Sepp Kuss celebrates with arms outstretched as he crosses the finish line to win Stage 6 of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana.

America’s Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) took Stage 6 of the Vuelta a España after a powerful attack on the Arcos de las Salinas climb propelled him beyond the rest of a large breakaway group.

The breakaway, which consisted of a number of high-profile riders such as acting white jersey Lenny Martinez, Wout Poels, Romain Bardet, and Marc Soler, formed with over 100 km to go and at one point sustained a lead of over 6 minutes on the peloton.

The group started as perseguidores on another breakaway that formed earlier in the stage and lasted all of 50 km before being caught by the eventual leading group.

Although the gap to the breakaway was slowly eaten away at, the leaders were still sufficiently far ahead such that Lenny Martinez, who finished second on the stage, leapfrogged Remco Evenepoel into the red jersey.

It was an incredibly impressive ride from the young French rider, who has shown excellent form already this week and is leading the Vuelta at just 20 years of age.

The gap between the breakaway and the peloton resulted in two sub-races since it became clear long before the finish that the breakaway would not be caught.

The first consisted of a promising attack in the breakaway by Colombian rider Rubio, but Lenny Martinez and Romain Bardet remained mere seconds behind him as he sprinted away from the rest of the breakaway group.

However, Sepp Kuss launched his attack shortly after and looked strong on the climb. He first caught and dropped Bardet and Martinez, before doing the same to Rubio.

He held his lead for the final few kilometers before winning the stage by a margin of 26 seconds.

The second sub-race was in the peloton, as Giro d’Italia winner and three-time Vuelta champion Primož Roglič attacked the rest of the GC riders, with defending champion Remco Evenepoel unable to stay on his wheel.

Roglič’s co-team leader and Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard also dropped Evenepoel and caught up with Roglič, and the two crossed the line together 32 seconds ahead of the red jersey on an outstanding day for Jumbo-Visma.

Primoz Roglic accelerates away from his rivals on Stage 6 of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana.

A Thrilling day in the mountains

The Vuelta a España returned to the mountains today, and it lived up to the pre-stage expectations of an exciting day.

The day included three categorized climbs, including the Category 1 climb to Javalambre Observatory on the Arcos de las Salinas as a summit finish.

The peloton was quickly split, as often happens in the mountains, and the long-standing breakaway was able to hold on to a significant margin due to the strength of its constituent riders on the climbs.

As is always said, the Grand Tours are won and lost in the mountains, and, although very early on in the race, a significant General Classification shake-up resulted from today’s tough riding.

Before the day’s stage, Remco Evenepoel was interviewed in a press conference with GCN in which he said that he would be keen to “lend” the jersey to take the early pressure off him and his Soudal-QuickStep team.

In what is not a very common thing to hear during a Grand Tour, clearly, many riders took that as an easy opportunity to kick him out of the maillot rojo.

He finished the day perhaps somewhat further out from the red jersey than he might have expected, with 2 minutes and 47 seconds between him and race leader Lenny Martinez, it wasn’t so much a “lending” of the jersey as it was a gifting of it.

That’s not to say that Lenny Martinez is running away with it, either, since he sits just 8 seconds ahead of today’s stage winner, Sepp Kuss, and within touching distance of Marc Soler, too.

Of course, it remains early in the race, but sitting in ninth place and nearly three minutes behind the red jersey, it’s certainly questionable if Remco Evenepoel will be able to claw his way back to defend the Vuelta a España.

Remco Evenepoel suffered a tough day as he surrendered the 2023 Vuelta red jersey to Lenny Martinez on Stage 6.

“I was only thinking about when to go”

Sepp Kuss caught up with Eurosport shortly after his stage win, and talked about the difficulties of the racing on Stage 6:

“It was an incredibly hard stage. We wanted to try to go in the breakaway just to test QuickStep and we knew it would be a hard day to control.

“That was the primary objective and we were in there with Dylan [van Baarle], Jan [Tratnik] and Attila [Valter], and they rode super. I have to thank them a lot for the work they did,” giving credit to his Jumbo-Visma teammates who were with him in the breakaway.

When asked whether he wanted to win the Vuelta, he perhaps diplomatically responded: “No, no. For me to win a stage is just incredible. We’ll see. I don’t know what I am in the General [Classification] now.

“One day at a time. First, I just have to enjoy this.”

The Jumbo-Visma team, who already have two team leaders, now have a third potential challenger in the race and had an excellent day today, with all three taking time from the pre-stage leader Remco Evenepoel.

Vuelta A España 2023: Stage 6 Results

1 KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) 4:27:29
2 MARTINEZ Lenny (Groupama – FDJ) +0:26
3 BARDET Romain (Team dsm – firmenich) +0:31
4 LANDA Mikel (Bahrain – Victorious) +0:46
5 SOLER Marc (UAE Team Emirates) +0:46
6 POELS Wout (Bahrain – Victorious) +1:03
7 RUBIO Einer Augusto (Movistar Team) +1:05
8 RODRÍGUEZ Cristián (Team Arkéa Samsic) +1:12
9 CRAS Steff (TotalEnergies) +1:12
10 CEPEDA Jefferson Alveiro (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) +1:26

Lenny Martinez wears the red jersey after Stage 6 of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana.

Vuelta a España 2023: General Classification Standings after Stage 6

1 MARTINEZ Lenny (Groupama – FDJ) 21:40:35
2 KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma) +0:08
3 SOLER Marc (UAE Team Emirates) +0:51
4 POELS Wout (Bahrain – Victorious) +1:41
5 CRAS Steff (TotalEnergies) +1:48
6 LANDA Mikel (Bahrain – Victorious) +1:58
7 CEPEDA Jefferson Alveiro (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA) +2:06
8 DE LA CRUZ David (Astana Qazaqstan Team) +2:23
9 EVENEPOEL Remco (Soudal – Quick Step) +2:47
10 MAS Enric (Movistar Team) +2:50

Vuelta a España Jerseys after Stage 6

Red Jersey

MARTINEZ Lenny (Groupama – FDJ)

Green Jersey

GROVES Kaden (AUS/Alpecin-Deceuninck)

Polka-Dot Jersey

SEPÚLVEDA Eduardo (ARG/Lotto-Dstny)

White Jersey

MARTINEZ Lenny (Groupama – FDJ)

Stage 6 Combativity Award Winner

MAS Enric (Movistar Team)

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Jack has been a two-wheel fanatic since a very young age. He loves zooming around the local country roads in Sussex on his road bike, and more recently enjoys flying down MTB trails on his gravel bike. A supreme lover of bikepacking, Jack has ridden many long-distance cycle tours in the UK.

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