Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) became a surprise winner of today’s sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse when he finished off a fantastic work by teammate Tony Martin by holding off Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) in a close sprint. The race leader had put everyone in their hurt zone when a reduced peloton approached the finish, briefly creating a gap that took out Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), and finally launched his Italian teammate perfectly before rolling across the line to defend his lead.
Going into the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse, all eyes were on Peter Sagan. A hilly profile and a flat finish meant that the race was expected to be decided in a sprint from a reduced peloton where the Slovakian was expected to be the fastest rider.
However, things didn’t pan out as expected for Sagan who played a bit too much with the muscles in the finale. Having made a brief attack over the top of the final climb, he again went clear on the descent and when more riders joined him in the flat section to the finish, he decided to commit himself to the chase.
With Tony Martin and Lampre-Merida leading the chase, however, the break was doomed and Sagan needed a few moments to recover from his efforts. In the meantime, Martin went back to the front and made the move that destroyed things for the Slovakian.
With his fast teammate Matteo Trentin still at his side, Martin decided to try to set up the Italian for the sprint and he went to the front, setting a brutal pace. In fact he went do fast that a gap opened up, leaving just the race leader, Trentin, Daniele Bennati, Francesco Gavazzi, Ben Swift (Sky) and Sergio Henao (Sky) in the front group.
With teammate Sacha Modolo left behind, world champion Rui Costa had to react and together with Rafael Valls, he brought things back together inside the final kilometre. At that point, however, it was all too late as in the same moment, Martin launched Trentin.
While Sagan and Modolo had to sprint for the minor places, Trentin went head to head with Bennati and narrowly held off his compatriot while Gavazzi made it an all Italian podium. The win is the third for Omega Pharma-Quick Step in the race that they have completely dominated so far.
Martin rolled across the line inside the top 20 and safely defended his 6-second lead over Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano). He is expected to solidify his position in tomorrow’s seventh stage which is the 24.5km time trial in Worb. The course is by no means flat as it contains two tough climbs but it will be hard to prevent Omega Pharma-Quick Step from taking their fourth stage win in the race.
A hilly stage
After two flat stages for the pure sprinters, it was back into hillier terrain for today’s sixth stage of the race which brought the riders over 192.8km from Büren an der Aare to Delemont. The first 40km were completely flat but then the riders went up a category 1 and category 2 climb in quick succession before taking on a long gradual descent to the finishing city. Here the riders ended the stage by doing a 42.5km finishing circuit that included both a category 2 and category 3 climb, the latter summiting just 11.7km from the finish. From there it was a downhill and flat run back to the finish in Delemont.
Again the riders took the start under a beautiful sunny sky but two riders who had finished yesterday’s stage, didn’t sign in this morning. Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) left race leader Tony Martin without a very important domestique while Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) who hit his knee in yesterday’s dramatic crash, was unable to continue the race.
The break takes off
As the stage could potentially suit a strong breakaway, the start was expected to be pretty fast and that prediction turned out to be correct. A lot of riders tried to get into the early move and the first significant move was established by Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r), Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE), Laurent Didier (Trek), Ben King (Garmin), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) and Jacopo Guarnieri. The sextet managed to build a small gap but at the 6km mark they were brought back.
Another two riders tried an unsuccessful move before the elastic snapped earlier than expected. Already after less than 10km of racing, Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE), Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM) and Guarnieri got clear and at the 110km mark they were already 40 seconds ahead.
Fumeaux drops back
For a long time, Danilo Wyss (BMC) tried to bridge the gap but as he continued to lose time he finally gave up and fell back to the peloton. For Fumeaux, the break was short-lived as the Swiss decided to return to the bunch, probably persuaded by his fellow escapees as his position just 1.17 behind Martin in the overall standings would make it difficult for the break to survive.
After 17km of racing, the escapees were already 2.43 ahead and they continued to build their advantage. At the 50km mark, they were 4.20 ahead while sprinter Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Belisol) became the first rider to abandon the race.
Thurau scores points
At the top of the first climb, Guarnieri led the escapees over the line, with the peloton following 4.08 later. At this point, big favourite Peter Sagan suffered a blow when Moreno Moser (Cannondale) left the race.
At the top of the second climb, Albasini led Isaychev, Guarnieri and Venter across the line while KOM leader Björn Thurau (Europcar) was first from the peloton 4 minutes later. The peloton now started to reduce their deficit and at the 87km mark, they had it down to 2.50. At this point, Jaroslaw Marycz (CCC) who crashed two days ago, became the third rider to abandon.
The chase gets serious
The gap was allowed to grow a big and with 75km to go, it was back up to 3.35. With 60km to go, however, it was time for the sprint teams to kick into action and Cannondale, Lampre-Merida and Sky significantly upped the pace.
Philip Deignan (Sky), Ted King, Guillaume Boivin (both Cannondale) and Maximilano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) set a brutal pace that had brought the gap down to 2.30 46km from the finish. At this point, Rui Costa suffered a very untimely puncture but the world champion managed to rejoin the bunch despite the extremely fast pace.
Sky drop the hammer
As the peloton approached the finish line for the first time, Tinkoff-Saxo took over, with Matteo Tosatto and Manuele Boaro leading across the line. At this point the gap was down to just 1.10 and it was clear that the escapees would have no chance.
Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ) took a short turn on the front while a crash just at the bottom of the next climb held up a lot of riders, taking the likes of Luka Mezgec and John Degenkolb out of contention. As soon as they started to climb, Sky hit the front, with Joe Dombrowski dropping the hammer and the peloton exploded to pieces.
Albasini attacked from the front group and very soon after Guarnieri and Isaychev were caught. Venter was the next to be brought back and finally Albasini also had to surrender.
Christian Knees moved to the front and assisted Dombrowski in the pace-setting while behind sprinters Heinrich Haussler (IAM) and Mark Cavendish (OPQS) got dropped, the latter exploding completely in dramatic fashion. With Deignan and Knees now setting the pace, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was the next rider to get dropped.
When Deignan swung off, Sergio Henao took over for Sky and he put a lot of riders into difficulty. As they neared the top, Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) attacked and he was joined by Thurau while Henao didn’t react and just continued is hard riding.
Thurau led Barguil over the top with an advantage of 14 seconds before falling back to the peloton which was now led by a resurgent Knees. Barguil continued his attack on the descent and managed to get a 22-second gap but against Sky he had little chance and when he finished the descent, he decided to wait for the peloton.
IAM up the pace
Deignan and Knees were now the riders setting the pace for Sky and they led the peloton onto the final climb. Laurent Didier (Trek) launched an attack but just as he did, IAM took over, with Jonathan Fumeaux setting a brutal pace.
Fumeaux quickly brought Didier back and when he swung off, his teammate Marcel Wyss took over. The plan was to set up Mathias Frank for an attack and the Swiss took off with less than one kiloemtre to the top.
He was joined by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) while Trentin blew up in his quest to keeo things together. Instead, Sagan accelerated and he easily passed the two GC riders before slowing down, hoping that more riders would join him.
Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) made the junction just before the top but in the same moment, Martin had brought things back together. Sagan’s teammate Davide Formolo went straight to the front to keep the pace high before Martin again took over.
Burghardt bridges the gap
Sagan hit the front and opened up a gap on the descent. Behind Martin and Tom Dumoulin were leading the chase and they kept the Slovakian so close that he decided to wait at the bottom.
When the peloton saw that he was waiting, they slowed down completely. This allowed Marcus Burghardt (BMC) to attack and he quickly joined Sagan who decided to contribute to the pace-setting.
An impressive Martin
Nathan Brown (Garmin), Georg Preidler (Giant) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) attacked and bridged the gap to the front duo and suddenly a strong 5-rider group was created. Behind, all the work was left to Peter Kennaugh (Sky) but when he got some assistance from Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), the gap was closed.
Martin hit the front with Trentin on his wheel and as he passed the flamme rouge, a gap was opened behind Henao in sixth position, Costa and Valls worked hard to close it down and made it less than 500m from the line. At that point, Trentin launched his sprint and held off Bennati to take the second WorldTour win of his short career.
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