Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) suddenly finds himself in the unexpected situation of leading Tirreno-Adriatico on the eve of the final stage after he took his second stage win ever in the Italian race on stage 6 of this year’s race. On a day that was expected to be decided in a bunch sprint, he joined an 8-rider breakaway after the final intermediate sprint and then came around Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in the uphill sprint to take both the win and the overall lead. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) were the only other survivors from the break and had to settle for third and fourth respectively.
We have gathered several reactions.
Greg Van Avermaet: This is my only chance to win a race that I love
Greg Van Avermaet has continued BMC Racing Team’s success at Tirreno-Adriatico, taking the win on Stage 6 in a nail-biting sprint and claiming the leader’s jersey in the process.
Van Avermaet found himself in an eight rider breakaway with 22km to go and eventually it was he and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) who went head to head in the sprint.
“It was a really nice finish for me as it was a little bit uphill. When I saw the parcours I knew it was a good stage for me. We tried to go for the bonus seconds on the first lap of the circuit and then we kept on going. The riders from Tinkoff and Etixx-Quick-Step worked really hard together to keep the gap on the peloton and I could save myself a little bit because we had Tejay van Garderen and Damiano Caruso behind us,” Van Avermaet explained.
"I didn’t really expect Peter Sagan to attack. Firstly he went for the intermediate sprint but he went so strong that we got a bit of a gap. Etixx - Quick Step and Tinkoff rode together. There was only me for BMC, so I saved myself. It was my chance to be alone. We directly got 20 to 30 seconds of an advantage because it was a fast circuit so I knew it was possible to go for the finish.
“I knew I could win such a sprint slightly uphill. It was a stage similar to the one I won last year: I was aiming for winning a second stage win at this race so I wanted to go for this one. The parcours of Tirreno-Adriatico is always very nice. It’s a preparation for the classics but also winning here is a confidence booster.
"It happened in a strange way. Tinkoff went for the time bonus when we first crossed the finishing line. It was a hard circuit after that and we kept going. Etixx - Quick Step and Tinkoff rode strongly. I tried to save as much energy as possible. At the end I was up there for sprinting against Peter Sagan.
“They were riding hard because it was a hard, fast circuit. We got 30 seconds and so I knew we could make it to finish and that it’d be a sprint. I’m pretty good in uphill sprints like that and so I’m really happy to beat Peter Sagan on a finish like this.
“I’m usually the guy who does a lot of work but this time it was different. It was not the best situation to be in at first but I knew I could profit from it. They rode strong and so I tried to stay easy and wait for the sprint. I’m always been confidence that I had a fast sprint finish, especially after a hard race. But sometimes you have to really fight for position in the sprints and cycling is hard business and you’ve got to look after yourself. I sprinted for myself in the early years of my career and then helped other riders on flat sprints.
“I tried to beat him in Richmond but he beat me there, so it was nice to beat him today. He’s got the jersey and he’s a great rider because he attacks and animates the race. I like that. I hope that he wins a lot of races this year but it’s nice to have him finish second behind me.
“I'm in good form. Since I won today, I'll go for GC tomorrow even though we were riding for Tejay van Garderen. Time trialling isn't my forte but the opportunity is there so I'll give it all.
“It’s not my speciality. 10k is pretty long for me. I’m better in prologues but I’ll try. It’s a bit of a strange situation that I’m going for the GC in Tirreno.
“I took two seconds in the sprint and then ten seconds for winning the stage, so I’m pretty happy with my day.
“I’ve got an advantage now after being at a disadvantage yesterday. We’ll see how far I can go. I think Jungels and Stybar and Sagan are the threats. We’ll see. I’ll focus on myself because a time trial is all about yourself. I had a good TT on the same course last year, so hopefully I’m can do the same kind of effort.
"Jungels is my main rival so it’s good to gain that time on him. I don’t know what happened to Tejay [he lost 1:20 and slipped to 26th overall – ed]. We’ll see who is the best tomorrow.
“I’ve never been in this position and I don’t think I ever will be again, so I have to go for it. I’m kind of lucky to wear the jersey and now I just hope to take home the nice trophy. This is my only chance to win this race I’ve always liked.
“We’ll see how far I can go tomorrow. Bob Jungels is probably the favourite for a time trial like that. I had good 11th place last year. It’s only 10km long.
“However, the margins are very small. Maybe the best thing for the GC is that I won 19 seconds on Jungels. He’s a real time trial specialist. But the victory is still within reach.
“I'm the new leader thanks to bonus seconds, I never dreamed about that. I did target this stage because I saw that the local circuit was pretty hard. But I never expected to be the leader in the Tirreno on the penultimate day.
"I feel really sorry for Tejay and the other guys who lost time because of the crash. It’s a bit strange that I’m up here on GC for Tirreno-Adriatico but we have the opportunity so I will try to go for the win here.”
Broken wheel takes van Garderen out of contention in Tirreno-Adriatico
It was a day of mixed results for BMC Racing Team as alongside Van Avermaet’s victory, race leader Tejay van Garderen was caught in a large crash with 5km to go and lost time.
It was a domino effect of riders going down that left him with a broken spoke and needing a wheel change, van Garderen explained.
“Luckily I didn’t go down but I had to take a wheel change and couldn’t quite get back with the peloton. Taylor Phinney and Alessandro De Marchi did a great job of trying to pace me back but sometimes that’s just how it goes,” van Garderen said.
“I’ll stay motivated and focused for the ITT tomorrow. Hopefully Greg can record a really good one. It would be amazing for him to win Tirreno-Adriatico. I don’t think anyone would have predicted this as the situation we would be in at this stage of the race with the events of yesterday and now today. But at the end it’s a huge success and I’ll stay focused for tomorrow and for the rest of the season.”
BMC Racing Team Sports Director Valerio Piva said the team will make the most of the current race situation.
“On one hand, we are very, very happy with the victory and the race lead of Greg but on the other hand we are disappointed because we had the chance to finish with three guys in the top five. Now of course we have the race lead and we’ll try to defend this position tomorrow.
Peter Sagan: Stybar had an reason not to work, not Van Avermaet
Back on the road after the cancellation of stage 5, the World Champion, Peter Sagan, took second in stage 6 after controlling the latter part of the race. In a fast and flat stage, Sagan took time from the GC contenders and added to his points total. The Maglia Rossa holder goes into the final time trial third in the GC, just 8 seconds down from the race leader.
After the cancellation of stage 5 due to weather, and the flat and fast route of today’s stage, Tirreno-Adriatico’s last road stage was set to be a thrilling race. The 210km course was flat for much of its length, with only one climb at the start before a few comparatively small and gentle climbs in the finishing circuit in Cepagatti, but with a final short, sharp incline to the finish.
The race started with a breakaway of six riders, but the peloton, with Tinkoff in control, was confident they could pull them back. With 25km to go, as the race entered the final circuit in Cepagatti, the breakaway was caught and the race was on for the finish.
Sagan took the intermediate sprint at 23km, looking strong, with nobody in the rest of the peloton able to challenge him. A moment later, Sagan went on the attack, with Bennati and Gatto in tow. Quickly creating a sizeable gap, the peloton tried to pull in the break, but with the bunch strung out, there was a strong chance the break would stick. With the peloton within touching distance, the breakaway went again.
On the team’s tactics today, Sport Director, Lars Michaelsen, was happy the break stayed away. “It was a big solid team effort – starting to pull from 60km to go, then coming up to the bonus sprint we put the pressure down and created the split. It's a bit against what normally happens - putting a bonus sprint in the last 25km and having a team drill through the bonus sprint and carry on.”
With the break safely away and the peloton with no chance of challenging for the finish, Oscar Gatto handed off to his team leader, who looked set to take the win with a strong sprint effort. With a long drag to the finish, Sagan took second – narrowly missing the win.
On the stage’s outcome, Michaelsen was supportive of how the team worked together.
“Today we were really riding to win the stage but we also wanted to defend the points jersey. I must give my compliments to the team – they executed the plan nearly to perfection but in some situations there's not a lot you can do. Today's display from the team was a true show of professional racing and we can be proud of that.”
After the race, Sagan was pleased with his and the team’s performance.
“It was a lot of work for my team today. I’m very happy with my ride for the intermediate sprint – we did well. Etixx-Quick Step tried to help us – they were working on the front a lot and also Michael Kwiatkowski was working well. For the final the group was behind us – I had to start to do my sprint and I tried to do my best. Thank you again to my team.
"Maybe I could have waited a little longer to start the sprint but Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) had already started his sprint and Van Avermaet (BMC) kept sitting on the wheel so I really had no choice. Tomorrow I have a good chance and then we'll see whether I should be frustrated or not.
"Before considering whether or not I launched my sprint too early, I first want to thank my team for the great work they’ve done today. We went for the time bonus, which was going to be decisive and we wanted to see who’d remain at the front after the intermediate sprint.
”Etixx - Quick Step and us rode together. Kwiatkowski also cooperated. Greg [van Avermaet] was undecided on swapping turns or not. Eventually he chose to keep his strength for the sprint finish. But it was Stybar who had good reasons for not riding at the front, not Greg!
”I launched my sprint early but I felt good and we had to go early because the main group was not far behind. My only problem was that Greg was on my wheel.
“What can I do? I can only do my race and he does his. I had a teammate on the front, while he was alone. For sure, I spent more energy for the race, but that's cycling. Hopefully the wheel turns, you know…
“We had a good race, I'm happy with the way it happened in the finale. I took a few seconds on the other riders for the GC. I moved up in the GC so it's a good thing.
“My team did big work today. I'm happy. We rode for the intermediate sprint and did well, and after that Etixx tried to help us, and we worked on the front a lot. Also Michal Kwiatkowski worked a lot. At the finish, the group was close behind us, Kwiatkowski was in the front and so I had to start to do my sprint. Greg was behind us, so what could I do? Nothing. I just tried to do my best.
“Ok, we'll see how it goes tomorrow. For me, the other races are important, not this simple stage. That's just fine.”
Looking back at how the race unfolded, Daniele Bennati gave some insight into the final 25km.
“We did a really good job, deciding to go for the bonus sprint and then go full gas. Etixx-Quick Step had the same idea as us so it was a good decision, but in the end we can be a bit disappointed with the result as Van Avermaet was fresher after.”
"We also need luck,” Oscar Gatto told Spaziociclismo. “He missed that final bit to win. I have seen today and other days a big Peter and I am convinced that he will certainly be very good in important races.
”Greg is first and foremost a great rider. In the last two laps he was almost always on the wheel. If I had been in his place, I would have done the same thing. There were three from QuickStep, we were three and then a Sky rider He raced the smart way. I've known him for many years and he is a smart rider. He raced to win , he won and congratulations to him. We accept his choice as he won and the winner is always right ,
Asked about his form over the race, Sagan was confident the season was shaping up well.
“These are the first races – I’m looking forward. I’m fully motivated. A race is a race and I want to be at the front and I want to do my best, for myself and for the team. I have to try, and I want to do my best. I wasn’t disappointed with second because we did a good ride and I was happy how the race went – we were in the final breakaway, I took some points, some seconds in front of the other GC riders, and that’s enough. I stepped up in the GC so it’s a good result.”
The road race is over – but tomorrow’s individual time trial may yet decide the race’s outcome. The 10.05km route in San Benedetto Del Tronto is pan flat and fast, taking place over an ‘out and back’ course. There is still the chance to take all-important seconds from the race leader.
The Maglia Rossa holder was already looking forward to the ITT.
“We’ll see how it’s going tomorrow. Everything is possible and I’ll try to do my best.
“I'm full of motivation because it's not a normal Tirreno, they cancelled one stage. I'm in the front; I want to do my best. I want to do well for the team. I have to try, I don't care who is in front of me.
”I’m trying to win Tirreno-Adriatico but it’s not easy. For sure Greg is up there for the final victory against Stybar, I’m up there too but there are others as well. We’ll all go flat out and we’ll count the times at the end.”
With the race outcome still in the balance, Michaelsen was supportive of Sagan’s chances in the time trial.
“Peter has a lot of fuel in him now after today. We can't predict what will happen tomorrow but we'll go full gas.”
Oscar Gatto: I would have done the same as Van Avermaet
"We also need luck,” Oscar Gatto told Spaziociclismo. “He missed that final bit to win. I have seen today and other days a big Peter and I am convinced that he will certainly be very good in important races.
”Greg is first and foremost a great rider. In the last two laps he was almost always on the wheel. If I had been in his place, I would have done the same thing. There were three from QuickStep, we were three and then a Sky rider He raced the smart way. I've known him for many years and he is a smart rider. He raced to win, he won and congratulations to him. We accept his choice as he won and the winner is always right.”
Michal Kwiatkowski gets confidence for Milan-Sanremo with great Tirreno performance
Michal Kwiatkowski took an opportunistic third place on stage six at Tirreno-Adriatico as he moved into the top 10 overall.
The Pole found himself in an elite group of riders who broke clear on the finishing circuit around Cepagatti, and worked together in a bid to gain time on the general classification.
Kwiatkowski opted to open up the sprint with 500 metres to go with a powerful acceleration. After carving out a small gap Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) hauled back the Team Sky rider, but it was Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) who had just enough in reserve to take the stage victory.
Third gave Kwiatkowski four bonus seconds, in addition to the five he gained on the peloton at the line. That was enough to elevate him seven spots into ninth overall, 31 seconds back on new race leader van Avermaet.
The race will now be decided by a flat 10km time trial on Tuesday, with van Avermaet leading the 'Race of Two Seas' by seven seconds over Zdenek Stybar (Etixx - Quick-Step) and eight up on Sagan.
"I can be happy about my performance and my result today," Kwiatkowski told TeamSky.com after the race. "Of course when you are in front you always want to win, but I'm satisfied with third place.
"My team-mates supported me in a fantastic way to make sure that I was in position to be in the right move. I have to say thanks to them. Salva (Puccio) and (Michal) Golas led me out so I was up front for the intermediate sprint.
"Coming into the finish I tried to anticipate Sagan and van Avermaet attacking a bit earlier. The group was coming fast and I knew that I could make sure the speed was high and also not lose as much time for the GC."
With the race set to be decided on the coast in San Benedetto del Tronto, Kwiatkowski looked ahead to the TT, as well as Saturday's Milan-San Remo.
"Tomorrow I'll try to do the best performance possible," he added. "I believe that I can improve my ninth place. If I can do a really good time trial hopefully I can move up and maybe get into the top five.
"Today was also a good test for Milan-San Remo. It was a long stage and a thrilling finale with top riders like Sagan, Van Avermaet and Stybar. I felt good, as did my legs which gives me confidence for La Classicissima."
The 210km test was interrupted by crashes, with Lars Petter Nordhaug forced to abandon the race after going down early in the stage - the Norwegian suffering cuts and bruises but otherwise okay.
Michal Golas was also squeezed off his bike by a mass pile-up on the finishing circuit with 5.2km to go, but was able to remount and finish the stage without issue.
By that point Kwiatkowski was already up the road after alertly following the move - with the cancellation of Sunday's queen stage ensuring the leaders battled for every last available second.
Etixx-QuickStep admit tactical mistake in Tirreno-Adriatico
Zdenek Stybar finished fourth and dropped one position in the general classification, with one day left of "The Race of the Two Seas". Besides Stybar, two other Etixx – Quick-Step riders are in the top 5 of the general classification: Bob Jungels, who continues to lead in the white jersey standings, and Gianluca Brambilla.
"As consequence of the intermediate sprint at the first passage on the finish line, a small group of riders formed at the front. We had three guys: Styby, Fernando and Matteo. We thought it was a good opportunity, but it didn't work out as planned. Sometimes the line between winning and losing is really thin. This time we didn't make it. Tactically we probably should have done it differently, but we are out there on the road to try to win races and the guys in the front were really motivated to do it. Tomorrow we have another possibility. We will give ourall to finish the race in the best possible way", said sport director Davide Bramati at the arrival in Cepagatti.
Zdenek Stybar: We all know that it was a tactical mistake
Losing first place, which he held since last Thursday, came as a disappointment for Zdenek Stybar, but despite the sadness caused by the outcome of stage six, he was quick to underline that the team's riders will fight until the very end: "It's a pity I lost the jersey and things didn't work out as we had hoped. I'm sad also for Bob who lost a few seconds because of it. The action wasn't planned but we took our responsibility when we thought it was the moment to do it. We are always up there to win; if you don't try, you don't win, that's cycling. After the race we all know that it was a mistake but in the heat of the final you can also make mistakes by thinking you are doing the right thing. As usual, the winner takes it all. Congrats to Van Avermaet! Anyway, the race is not over and tomorrow we will give 100% to try to get another great result."
Read more at http://www.etixx-quickstep.com/en/news/detail/tough-day-at-the-office-in-tirreno-adriatico/2603#zx03VpwtOp5RJhUj.99
Bob Jungels: I was in a complicated situation
"To be honest, I found myself in a bit of a complicated situation,” Bob Jungels said. “We had three guys at the front. It wasn’t really clear how far ahead they were. Stybar has lost the leader’s jersey but that’s part of the game.
”Now I’m told that I’m “only” 21 seconds adrift but there are also “only” 10km to make it up. Sagan, Stybar and Van Avermaet can all do a good time trial. We won’t give up until the very last meter of racing for sure. Stybar still aims at winning the overall and I’m targeting the podium"
"I felt pretty good to be honest. The finale was quite complicated with Stybar ahead even if it is a pity to have lost the jersey. We will try to win it back tomorrow and see how I'll go.
”In the end it was no surprise today. Even if the composition of the leading group was a little special since there were three of my teammates and three from Tinkoff. But it was not entirely clear what they had left in front. However now we have to see what we can pull out of this situation.”
Matteo Trentin: We proved that there was enough terrain to attack
"I think the audience enjoyed all this,” Matteo Trentin told SpazioCiclismo. “In the wake of a, let's call it trivial, sprint, it was a nice escape. We went really strong.
"We were three of us and three of them, with Kwiatkowski, and we decided to go full gas. The group was behind and did not allow us a big gap. It’s too bad with the win, but Van Avermaet never pulled. He had Van Garderen and Caruso behind and defended them, protecting his interests to win. However, we have shown that despite the climbs, there was ground to attack.”
Caleb Ewan left frustrated after winning sprint in Tirreno-Adriatico
Australian sprinting sensation Caleb Ewan won the race for the line behind the days late attack to place fifth on the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.
The stage was won by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) after following a late move by Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in the last kilometre of the race. The win puts Van Avermaet into the lead in the overall general classification heading into the final day of racing tomorrow.
Despite missing out on the oppurtunity to contest a full sprint, sports directorMatthew White praised the team for trying to take control of the race.
”It’s a shame that Caleb didn’t get the chance to sprint for the win, we were doing great a job controlling things for most of the day. The crash on the last circuit changed the shape of the race completely.
”There is no doubt that yesterday’s unscheduled rest day had an effect on today’s result,” said White. ”Without the mountains stage, you ended up with the best classics riders in the world in the final move, at least we got back on the front and tried to bring it all back together again.
”Caleb did really well to get as close as he did in the finale and overall the team rode very solidly throughout the day.”
Alejandro Valverde out of GC contention: At least this race is good training
Despite not being able to make a defining move in this particular edition of Tirreno-Adriatico, Alejandro Valverde still showed his unique ability to sprint against some of the world's fastest men on a bike in the uphill finish of Cepagatti (stage six), end of a very long (210km), tremendously fast last road stage in Italy's Marche region.
An acceleration originated by the day's last intermediate sprint, during the final two local laps (22km), created a prestigious break including Sagan (TNK), Gaviria, Stybar (EQS), Kwiatkowski (SKY) and eventual stage winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). The attempt, which ammassed almost 30" of advantage and was even countered by Vincenzo Nibali (AST) and Jan Bakelants (ALM), found two responses from the Blues: a move by Valverde alone on the penultimate ascent to the line and, later on, a furious pursuit by the telephone squad, the 5" gap between Valverde and the leaders growing up back again to 20", with only six kilometers to cover.
In the end, the effort did not reach its goal: Valverde finished in 6th spot, 7" behind breakaway members Van Avermaet, Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Stybar; on the wheel of top sprinter Caleb Ewan (OGE); and ahead of the likes of Sacha Modolo (LAM) or Moreno Hofland (TLJ) - a proof of the incontestable polivalence of the Las Lumbreras-born rider. Tirreno-Adriatico will come to a close on Tuesday with the traditional, 10km ITT in and around San Benedetto del Tronto, which Valverde will start at 48" from new GC leader Van Avermaet.
"It was quite a calm stage except for the end, which was really nervous with that break forming up after the intermediate sprint,” Valverde said. “We were all of us, both myself and the whole team, close to chasing down that move twice, but it wasn't possible at the end. My team-mates did well and I must remain happy with that sixth place and the good legs.
”Tomorrow's ITT is completely flat, with long straights, so, other than giving my best as I always do, there's no real GC goal to chase - since the stage we could do something to make up our gap, Sunday's mountain-top finish, was cancelled, it was obvious it was pretty much over. Still, I remain content: these six days will be good for the objectives to come during the spring."
Diego Ulissi nearly joins leading group in Tirreno-Adriatico
Lampre-Merida were in the mix with Federico Zurlo in the early break before Diego Ulissi nearly bridged the gap on the final circuit. Sacha Modolo was seventh.
"Our riders have performed well in the first part of the race. It was necessary to be present in the break of the day and we were able to achieve this goal,” said sports director Orland Maini. It was not easy, all four riders that had been assigned the task of trying to attack, Conti, Cattaneo, Niemiec and Zurlo, tried to join the moves that characterized the first kilometers. Zurlo was able to exploit a favorable situation in the race in which the escape could get some freedom.
”In the final stages, Ulissi tried to get back to the lead alongside Valverde. Unfortunately they just missed a few meters.”
LottoNL-Jumbo and Hofland come up short in Tirreno-Adriatico
Moreno Hofland placed tenth in the penultimate stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter finished in the exciting stage finale sixth of a bunch sprint. Four riders kept out of the clutches of the peloton in Cepagatti. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) won the day and took the overall lead.
A strong breakaway had a gap over the peloton in the final part of the penultimate stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico. Overall riders and riders who excel in the sprint classics gave it all for their chances.
“That wasn’t a great situation for us,” sports director Addy Engels said after the race. “We knew that those riders were able to hold their advantage. We decided what the order of riders was going to be in the sprint lead-out. With four kilometres to go, everyone had to be in the right position. The perfect moment to take the initiative is something the riders have to feel themselves, afterwards.”
The Team LottoNL-Jumbo riders chose to take the lead of the peloton a little earlier than they wanted in the end.
“We still had to close the gap,” Tom Van Asbroeck said. “When we took the hammer in our hands, we did double work, actually. We wanted to prepare the sprint, but you want to sprint for first place, of course. We gave the best we had, but were over powered. The leading group was too strong.”
“It’s a good sign that everyone was in the right position in time,” Engels added. “They were ready to take the initiative and did that as well. Moreno’s sixth place in the bunch sprint isn’t bad at all, in the end. It was a hard stage finale. The most positive thing about this race is that they were able to stay together with a big group of riders. That’s something the team developed this week.”
Just before the peloton had to climb the final uphill, Primoz Roglic crashed softly.
“It was a crash without any damage, but he did lose some time,” Engels added.
Roglic lost his chances in the general classification when the organisation decided to cancel stage 5 and had no result to defend during the closing time trial anymore.
“It’s still going to be an interesting day for him tomorrow. He has to give it all in that time trial. He doesn’t have much experience in time trials, so this is a chance to gain some.”
Navardauskas: I don't sprint good enough to get a better result
Ramunas Navardauskas was Cannonda'es top finisher on the sixth stage of Tirreno Adriatico. A late race breakaway surprised with fpur riders staying away to contest the finish. Navardauskas was in the first chase group and slotted into 11th.
He says: "The race course was not so bad. There was lots of tailwind, so it was a fast ride. Just at the end when we come to the last part of the race, there were some hills. I was expecting a sprint, so I tried to save legs for the final.
"But there was a situation when the sprinters attacked. Actually that sprint was to get three seconds. After the bonus sprint, they got a gap from the group and kept going. So some teams with a sprinter in the break did not pull like normal. And other teams were late to organise. And the situation ended very interesting for viewers.
"Our team, we did not have a sprinter so we left work to the other teams. However I got lots of help from all the team. Jack Bauer stayed until the last 500 meters with me. But the other boys were around and helped a lot. I’m not a strong enough sprinter to make a better result. Also a crash on the first day did not help with my confidence. But our team is working good together, and I think we are on a right way. Now we just need to get healthy and make some luck!"
Aggressive Cesare Benedetti wins Tirreno-Adriatico mountains jersey
In recent years, Cesare Benedetti has always been one of the most aggressive riders at Bora-Argon 18. A lot of his breakaway efforts didn’t pay off in the past even though he scored the best result in one of the five “monuments” in cycling in the team history, with his 14th place in last year’s “Il Lombardia”.
In this year’ss Tirreno – Adriatico, Benedetti could take advantage of his breakaway efforts. On the second stage he already had been almost 200k at the front of the race and scored his first point in the KOM classification. Again in the fourth stage the young Italian was part of the group of the day and had a hard fight with Valerio Conti for the KOM points. But at the end of this stage, after 388 kilometres in breakaway groups, Cesare Benedetti took over the lead in the KOM classification.
After the 5th stage had to be cancelled due to a very bad weather forecast, the only KOM of today’s 6th stage was the decisive one. But the KOM in Pollenza at kilometre 27.5 did not turn out as the final showdown between Benedetti and Conti, because a 6-riderbreakaway already had gone clear from the peloton. None of these riders had a chance to play a role in the overall KOM classification. Therefore, Cesare Benedetti with 11 points cannot be overtaken anymore. In the concluding time trial no more points are available. Just a DNF can stop Benedetti from taking the win the KOM classification. For BORA – ARGON 18 this success means the first win of a leaders’ jersey in a WorldTour race.
“It is great that after a lot of kilometres in breakaway, all efforts pay off this time,” he said. “This is one of my biggest successes in my career and even better here in Italy. The 5th stage would have been a big fight, but it had to be cancelled. That’s cycling, you never know what’s up next, that’s why it is always worth to fight every day. For the organiser this decision was for sure a hard one and I have great respect for that, because I know how hard it is to organise big cycling races these days. In the end the winner is always the one with the most points, and this time I am the one. I had to fight hard for this victory.
"Surely I am very happy with this jersey. I lost it in the last stage in Porto Sant'Elpidio in 2013 but this year I managed to take it home. There were no big mountains so it was not won by one of the top climbers. However, I went on the attack in two stages and I managed to get the best I could.
"At first we just had to be sure not to lose it, so we tried to let an escape go in which there was no one who could take the jersey.
”The finale part of the season last year was tough. It taught me to trust only myself and my head is responding pretty well.”
“I really appreciate that Cesare takes a leaders’ jersey in the end this time. He did fight a lot in the last years, was in a lot of breakaways, also had a jersey for one or two days, but in the end he did not succeed. Now everything did pay off this time and I am proud of him because of his motivation and attitude all the times. For the team this is a big moment also. To win something at a WorldTour race, a stage or a jersey, is always something special. And as a ProContinental team it is even sweeter,” sports director Enrico Poitschke said.
Michele Scarponi breaks collarbone in Tirreno-Adriatico
Astana were in the mix with Vincenzo Nibali who went on the attack after good support from his teammates.
"Mine is an obscure work,” said Eros Capecchi. “The "gregario "is not seen but is always there.
"I put myself at the disposal of the team and this Tirreno is giving me a good feeling. The work for the Giro d'Italia continues on schedule."
Unfortunately, a crash forced Michele Scarponi to withdraw. The Italian rider suffered a fracture of the left collarbone.
Nibali is tenth in the General Classification, 34" behind.
Nikias Arndt: I was not strong enough to get a result
The Team Giant-Alpecin riders were staying calm and waiting for later in the race to make an impact, looking out for Nikias Arndt and keeping him as fresh as possible for the final.
With the bunch all back together a fast final 20km were on the cards. The riders were well positioned near the front of the bunch to stay out of trouble and alert to any splits that may occur.
In the bunch, Arndt was in a good position for the sprint finish but it wasn’t to be their day and Arndt did what he could as he finished in 19th place.
Arndt said after the race: “I think it was a good day today. The bunch was controlled by Orica and Quick Step and they chased down the breakaway. We were able to have a calm day in the bunch and conserve our energy.
“Once we hit the first climb, the race came alive and it was a really hard final. On the first climb, the team was still all together and we were able to stay in a good position. On the final lap, there was split in the bunch after the intermediate sprint and 8 guys stayed ahead.
“In the sprint finish, the teamwork was very good and Zico [Weytens] set me up for the sprint but in the end, I was not strong enough to have a really good sprint. Overall I think the team did a good performance today and we are going in the right direction. We proved that we can stick to our plan and for the upcoming races we just need to finalize it all.”
Coach Marc Reef said: “The whole race was high speed because of the strong tailwind but the peloton was well under control. In the last part of the stages, Tinkoff made a move and the peloton slipt and there were eight strong riders at the front.
“We focussed on Nikias to put him in a good position for the sprint. That worked out pretty well but the result wasn’t there yet.”
Crashes cost Boasson Hagen his chances in Tirreno-Adriatico
It was on the first of the 2 laps where the race would take a pivotal turn, particularly for Dimension Data.
A select group of 8 riders got away with 19km to go. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka went to the front of the peloton to chase down this dangerous move, which included Van Avermaet, Sagan and Kwiatkowski. Unfortunately, at 15km to go Kanstantsin Siutsou required a bike change and while the Belorussian was standing on the roadside, Kristian Sbaragli had a front wheel flat a kilometer further up the road. These events totally derailed the chase effort and allowed the front 8 to open up a race winning margin of 30 seconds.
To extinguish the last of bit of hope that the peloton had of catching the leaders, a crash took place with 5km to go right in the front of the bunch. Again the African Team was affected with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg hitting the deck quite hard. Edvald Boasson Hagen and Natnael Berhane were also caught up in the crash but thankfully, they did not hit the tarmac.
As Van Avermaet and Sagan sprinted for the win up the road, the peloton had to be content with racing for 5th position. The African Team riders rolled across the line without contesting for the minor placings.
Edvald Boasson Hagen said:
“It was a really hard stage, especially from when the group split. We tried to ride on the front but we had a few problems and the guys in front were really strong. After the crash I was setback quite a bit so I had to come from a long way behind to get to the front again. The final was also harder than we expected so we didn't achieve any sort of result today, but tomorrow will be a new day.”
Bauke Mollema: Without the mountain stage, I wanted to try something
The elimination of the summit finish with the cancelation of stage 5 changed the course of Tirreno-Adriatico, altering the weeklong race to one for the punchers and leaving the pure climbers, like Bauke Mollema, little chance to fight for the overall podium.
With a 10-kilometer time trial scheduled for tomorrow, it was a fight for bonus seconds in the penultimate stage six with a tough, undulant finish circuit, and resulted in zero chance for the token breakaway group swallowed up ahead of the final intermediate sprint with less than 23 kilometers to race.
The heated battle for the precious seconds caused a separation at the front, and eight riders – including many of the overall favorites - moved clear with two circuits of 11.4 kilometers to go.
The gap fell to four seconds over the finish line with one lap remaining, and it appeared the leaders' time in front was over. But on the downhill portion of the circuit the front runners stretched the gap to 16 seconds again, and as soon as the road tilted upwards, Mollema attacked.
"It was a hard finale," explained Bauke Mollema. "They surprised me with that attack at [23k] to go, and it was a pity because my legs were good and I was a bit too far back. So I gave it a try on the last little climb, and I hope to get a couple of GC riders with me to hopefully close the gap, but only Jasper was there. He did a great job trying to close the gap but two guys against 8 in the front, it was not possible."
Jasper Stuyven pulled hard for Mollema, giving one last huge effort ahead of the uphill pitch 1.5-kilometers from the line. Although Mollema pulled to within 11 seconds, the peloton eventually swarmed him in the final kilometer and arrived at the finish for the minor placings, seven seconds short.
"Tomorrow will be hard to finish even in the top five, there are a lot of good time trialists in front of me," added Mollema. "I was really disappointed that we couldn't race yesterday; I just wanted to try something today, and on this kind of parcours, this is all I can do."
Barring an incident, the fight for the final podium tomorrow will be between today's winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step), all who arrived in the small leading group, now separated by eight seconds.
Although Mollema climbed in the standings to 12th (+36"), with no mountain to climb his chance at a podium placing was already slim with the punchers' finale today and a flat 10-kilometer race against the clock Tuesday.
However, Fabian Cancellara will try and repeat his last year victory in the stage seven 'race of truth' and hope to give the team a little redemption for the missing mountain in 2016.
Katusha gives Marco Haller rare sprinting chance in Tirreno-Adriatico
After Sunday’s cancelled stage due to bad weather, it was time for a return to racing for the sixth day of the 51st Tirreno-Adriatico. Team KATUSHA put together a plan for sprinter Marco Haller and showed solid work and good organizational skills to keep the Austrian safe, but a small breakaway created a gap that couldn’t be closed and a reduced sprint followed.
”From the start of today’s stage the team was focused on working for Marco. We felt it would be a sprint today. The first time we went through the finish line, Sagan and Tinkoff sprinted through the line and split off a group from the rest for the last 20 km. Meanwhile behind, sometimes teams worked, sometimes they didn’t so we weren’t bringing them back, and then there was a crash with 5 km to go so there was much disorganization at the end and the break was not caught. The team rode very well for Marco – they always brought him to the front and kept him in a good position. But the final was uphill and Sagan and Van Avermaet were a few seconds ahead in the front and it was impossible to catch these guys to sprint for the victory. Marco finished in the first group. We didn’t see results, but we saw good work all day from the team and they were very organized in their preparation for our sprinter,” said team director José Azevedo.
Haller was part of the large group at 7-seconds.
Pinot targets top 10 in Tirreno time trial
Thibaut Pinot and the FDJ team spent Sunday without racring after stage 5 was cancelled. The return to racing was not quiet as Pinot had to erase the effects of a mechanical in the finale.
"It was a stage identical to the previous two this weekend," says sports director Yvon Madiot. "It was for classics riders and it was like a classic: fight for position, fast pace and not easy. To make matters worse, Thibaut broke a wheel just when the fight broke out. He found himself in chase mode when 8 riders left the peloton, 8 riders who were well-placed overall, including Van Avermaet (BMC), stage winner, and Sagan (Tinkoff). The team did a big job and when he was back, the gap was 30 seconds. So FDJ chased reducing the gap to 15 seconds. Nibali attacked after two two of his teammates had worked with us and was stuck between the front and the peloton but failed to make the junction. The pursuit was disorganized, the gap went up to 30 seconds and the other teams, Trek and Movistar, started to chase. Then there was a fall crash may have prevented the junction in which none of my riders were involved."
However Van Garderen and Caruso were and could never rejoin the peloton. Hence, Pinot (6th) and Sébastien Reichenbach (7th) gained two places overall.
"We hope Thibaut will be between 5th and 10th in the stage and overall," Madiot says. "He will have Johan Le Bon and Steve Morabito to set early marks. And in the team, the strongest is Anthony Roux. He is at a very good level! "
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