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The ups and downs at the Vuelta a Espana

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Cyclists at the Vuelta a Espana are proving their expertise in uphill and downhill cycling.

Team Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez proved he had the strongest legs on Wednesday when he attacked on a 24% ramp in Valdepeñas de Jaén to win Stage 5.

On Thursday, four members of the Liquigas squad, and one from Movistar, attacked on the closing downhill run to win the Stage 6 for one teammate and put another in second place for the overall lead.

Peter Sagan, 21, of Slovia celebrated his first Grand Tour victory on Thursday after being delivered to the finish in Cordoba.

Meanwhile, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali gained enough time to jump from 5th to 2nd overall. The Italian sits just 16 seconds behind overall Vuelta leader Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep).

The four Liquigas cyclists blew the race apart on the final descent of a 119-mile race from Ubeda to Cordoba.

While some expected a mass sprint finish, others thought the peloton might split apart on the Category 2 climb about 12 miles from the finish. No one expected an attack on the descent of that mountain, but that's what Liquigas did.

Together with Movistar cyclist Pablo Lastras, the Liquigas cyclist opened a 17 second gap on the rest of the peloton. Sagan crossed first, followed by Lastras.

Friday's Stage 7 is another lumpy, 119-mile race from Almadén to Talavera de la Reina. There are no categorized climbs, and this might end in a bunch sprint.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2011/08/25/the-ups-and-downs-at-the-vuelta-a-espana/

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