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Emerging as the strongest from a 15-rider breakaway, Weening rode to a solo win on stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse; Kelderman was the best of the favourites and took over the race lead while Thomas and van Garderen cracked

Photo: Sirotti














16.06.2016 @ 17:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One month after winning the Tour of Norway overall, Pieter Weening (Roompot) continued his dream season by taking the first WorldTour victory for Roompot on a very wet and miserable sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse. Emerging as the strongest from a 15-rider breakaway, he rode to a solo win, holding off Maximilano Richeze (Etixx-QuickStep) and Maciej Paterski (Roompot). Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) was the best in the GC battle and moved into the race lead on a day that saw Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) crack.


When he joined Orica-GreenEDGE, Pieter Weening seemed to be on track for a huge successful time as he improved his level significantly. In 2013, he won the Tour de Pologne overall and one year later he took his second Giro d’Italia stage win.


However, things turned sour in 2015 and very early in the year it became evident that he didn’t have a future in the Australian team. Instead, he became the marquee signing of his home team Roompot that were looking for strong Dutchmen to lead the team and achieve more wins after a meagre debut season.


In March, Weening proved that he was back on track when he almost won the queen stage of the Volta a Catalunya but he cracked completely near the top of the final climb after a great solo ride. He finally got things right two months later when he won both the queen stage and the overall at the Tour of Norway.


If Roompot still had any doubts whether they had made a bit of a coup by signing the Dutchman, they got the full confirmation in today’s wet stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse. Having made it into a 15-rider breakaway, Weening did what he failed to do in Catalonia: hold off the peloton and claim the first WorldTour win for Roompot.


Behind the strong Dutchman, the battle for the GC was on and it became a day of elimination. The two biggest pre-race favourites Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) were both dropped as ws three-time winner Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and race leader Pierre Latour (Ag2r) and instead it was Wilco Kelderman and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) who emerged as the strongest, with the Dutchman winning a sprint from a small group to take fifth and move into the race lead.


The early break had been made up of Gregory Rast (Trek), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Kristijan Koren (Cannondale), Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Iljo Keisse (Team Quick Step), Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Team Quick Step) , Kévin Reza (FDJ), Martin Elmiger (IAM), Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar), Maciej Paterski (CCC), Nico Brüngger (Roth), Pieter Weening (Roompot), Antwan Tolhoek (Roompot) and Jordi Simon (Verva) who reached the top of the mighty Klausenpass at the midpoint of the stage with an advantage of 4.45 over the peloton. It was raining cats and dogs and unsurprisingly, the front group split on the wet descent. Van der Sande and Gilbert managed to escape while Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) attacked from the peloton. Further back, the peloton split to pieces as lots of riders were dropped on the wet roads.


With 40km to go, van der Sande and Gilbert had put 40 seconds into their chasers and increased their advantage over Izagirre to 5.10. The peloton was even further back as they tried to take it easy on the slick roads. Meanwhile, Tiago Machado (Katusha) became the next rider to abandon.


As they finished the descent, most of the front group came back together as only Brüngger and Tolhoek failed to make it back. They could start to prepare for the battle for the stage win as the peloton was now a massive 8.45 behind. Izagirre had already opened an advantage of 4 minutes.


Ag2r had apparently given up their chase and instead Sky and Astana started to chase with Christian Knees Michal Golas and Laurens De Vreese. BMC also came to the fore with Michael Schär, Silvan Dillier and Dylan Teuns and LottoNL-Jumbo even put Twan Castelijns, Bram Tankink, Paul Martens and Tom Van Asbroeck on the front while Giant-Alpecin started to work with Sam Oomen and Sindre Lunke. Astana soon stopped their work though.


While Richeze beat Keisse and Reza in the first intermediate sprint, Sütterlin dropped back to help Izagirre and went full gas to help his captain, passing Tolhoek in the process. With 20km to go, the gaps were 4.20 and 8.10 respectively and they were still 4.00 and 7.30 five kilometres later. At this point, Brüngger had rejoined the leaders.


Richeze beat Keisse and Ligthart in the final intermediate sprint with 12km to go before Keisse tried to anticipate the climb. However, an attentive van der Sande immediately shut it down.


With 10km to go, Izagirre and Sütterlin were starting to lose ground as they were now only 3 minutes ahead of the peloton. They were gaining on the leaders though as they were 3.30 behind. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) became the next rider to abandon.


As soon as the front group hit the climb, Brüngger launched an attack but he was quickly passed by Weening. Simon and Paterski gave chase and passed the fading Brüngger but they were losing ground to the lone Dutchman.


Sütterlin swung off at the bottom of the climb which Izagirre started with an advantage of 2.40 over the peloton and a deficit of 3.20 to Weening. Moments later, Reto Hollenstein (IAM) led his teammate Jarlinson Pantano onto the climb.


Darwin Atapuma (BMC) went full gas right from the bottom, trying to limit Tejay van Garderen’s GC losses and making the peloton explode to pieces. Meanwhile, an impressive Richeze passed Paterski and Simon.


Ian Boswell (Sky) took over from Atapuma when the gap to Weening and Izagirre had dropped to 5.30 and 1.50 respectively and he set a solid pace to whittle the group down to around 15 riders. That’s when Simon Spilak (Katusha) launched the first attack and while he tried to ride away, Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale) took over the pace-setting.


Dombrowski’s hard pace made the peloton explode and surprisingly Tejay van Garderen lost contact. Pierre Latour (Ag2r) was clearly suffering. When Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) upped the pace even further, the race leader lost contact as did Rui Costa (Lampre-Meridaa) as the group was split in two.


Barguil, Thomas, Izagirre, Pnatnao, Kelderman, Lopez, Dombrowski and Talansky were the only survivors and as Barguil kept riding on the front, Spilak was brought back. Cieslik was stuck in between the main group and a group with Polanc, Benoot, Costa, De La Parte, Chernetskii and Latour.


Barguil was clearly frustrated not to get any help and when he briefly slowed down, Spilak attacked again. Barguil briefly started to chase but when he stopped, Dombrowski again hit the front. Meanwhile, Weening entered the final 2km wit advantages of 4.20 over Izagirre and 5.20 over the peloton.


Dombrowski set a brutal pace on the front and gradually Thomas slipped to the rear end of the group. Less than 2km from the top, the Welshman had to surrender and he quickly started to lose ground. However, there was no one stopping Weening who had plenty of time to celebrate his win.  Richeze held on to take second, Paterski took third and Koren was the final survivor in fourth place.


Dombrowski kept riding on the front, sending Pantano out the back door and bringing Izagirre back inside the final kilometre. Barguil slipped to the rear end of the group as the American had everyone on their limit. No one could do launch any attack and it came down to a sprint for fifth place. Talansky was the one to hit out but he was passed by Kelderman, with Barguil being the only rider to hang on as a split opened up in front of Ion Izagirre in 8th. Thomas and Costa lost almost a minute while van Garderen was the biggest loser, reaching the finish with a loss of almost two minutes.


The result saw Kelderman move into the race lead with a 16-second advantage over Barguil and 19 seconds over Talansky.  However, there will be no room to rest as the climbing only gets harder in tomorrow’s queen stage. The massive 224.3km course includes an early HC climb in the first half and then a long, flat section leads to the bottom of the brutally steep Rettenbachferner climb which is known as one of the hardest climbs in Europe. It averages a massive 11.0% over 10.1km and will be the biggest test for the climbers in this year’s race.


A big mountain stage

After yesterday’s mountain stage, there were more mountains on the menu on stage 6 which brought the riders over 162.8km from Weesen to Amden. After a flat start, the riders tackled the mighty Klausenpass at the midpoint and then descended to another flat section. In the finale, they hit the brutally steep climb to Amden. It averaged 10.7% over 6.9km and the KOM sprint came 1200m from the line. The final part was still uphill at 7.9%.


The big news at the start was that the local hero Mathias Frank (IAM) did not turn up for the start as illness forces him to take a break prior to the Tour de France. Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff) was also absent when the field rolled through the neutral zone under a rainy sky.


15 riders get clear

There was general consensus that the day could be good for a break and therefore there were attacks right from the start. It took some time before the break was established, but after 18km 15 riders had escaped. Gregory Rast (Trek), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Kristijan Koren (Cannondale), Pim Ligthart (Lotto Soudal), Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Iljo Keisse (Team Quick Step), Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Team Quick Step) , Kévin Reza (FDJ), Martin Elmiger (IAM), Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar), Maciej Paterski (CCC), Nico Brüngger (Roth), Pieter Weening (Roompot), Antwan Tolhoek (Roompot) and Jordi Simon (Verva) were allowed to get clear and had built a lead of 2.40 after 32 kilometers of racing. At the same time, Lieuwe Westra (Astana) abandoned.


More KOM points Tolhoek

After a first hour with an average speed of 40km/h, the gap had gone out to 4.15, and at the 53km mark it was 5.05. The advantage stabilized and it was still five minutes when the peloton reached the feed zone where Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) and Lars Boom (Astana) left the race.


While the field was going up the Klausenpass, the gap briefly started to grow and halfway up it had reached 5.45. In the pace, Pierre Latour’s Ag2r teammates set the pace.


Tolhoek beat his teammate Weening, Simon, Gilbert and Ligthart in the KOM sprint on the Klausenpass while Ag2r led the peloton to the top 4.55 later. Meanwhile, the mass exodus continued as Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) left the race. Moments later, Izagirre made his move to set the scene for the finale.



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