The 6th stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico again saw some misfortune affect Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. In a stage where a bunch sprint was all but guaranteed, the African team were confident that they would at least be able to secure a podium placing. A crash on the final corner put an end to all hopes of a top 3 position as Gerald Ciolek and his lead out were caught up behind a heap of Lotto-Belisol riders.
Everything was looking good with 1.5km to go as Jay Thomson, Jaco Venter and Kristian Sbaragli were poised to lead out Gerald Ciolek over the closing kilometres. The Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders were alongside the sprint train of Andre Greipel’s Lotto-Belisol team as they flew into the final right hand bend. It was in this corner that a few of the riders from Lotto came unstuck and went down. Venter and Ciolek had no choice but to brake and have their chances of a result disappear into the distance as they came to a hault.
Sbaragli also had to slow down but the young Italian still managed to keep on pedaling through the carnage. In a big effort over the last kilometer, Sbaragli tried all he could to get back to the front of the race. Omega Pharma –QuickStep had control though and the Belgian team were able to deliver Mark Cavendish to the line with room to spare behind them. Cavendish’s lead out man, Alessandro Petacchi was able to hold on for 2nd while Peter Sagan (Cannondale) took 3rd. Sbaragli would eventually finish in 7th place for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung.
“It was not a bad result for me today but it definitely could have been better for the team without that last crash. Gerald was in a very good position to get a good result today, maybe the win but even the podium for sure.”
“The team was really, really good in the last kilometers in working together to be in a good position. Unluckily for us the crash was around position 10, right where Gerald was which is disappointing for us,” said Sbaragli after the stage.
Sports Director, Jens Zemke, was just as disappointed as the Italian. “The sun has been shining all week here, but not for our riders. We have been followed by a dark cloud. Gerald got a flat with 2km to go on stage 3, we lost our GC man Sergio in a crash this week and today Gerald was taken out by a crash when we were in a pretty good position,” said the German director sadly.
“Respect to our youngster Kristian though, he took his chance today and sprinted to 7th which gives him 2 top 10 placings at Tirreno this week. Now we will look to get through tomorrows TT before we look to defend our title at Milano-Sanremo next Sunday,” concluded Zemke.
The Tirreno-Adritico will come to it’s conclusion tomorrow with the final 9km individual time trial.
Tirreno-Adriatico (Italy) – (March 12-18/WT)
Sergio Pardilla (ESP)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Andreas Stauff (GER)
Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)
Jay Thomson (RSA)
Jaco Venter (RSA)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI)
Kristian Sbaragli (ITA)
Staff: Jens Zemke (Sports Director), Manel Lacambra (Sports Director), Dr Jarrad van Zuydam (Doctor), Dr Rob Child (Doctor-Nutritionist), Bastian Buffel (Soigneur), Hagen Bernutz (Soigneur), Paolo Baldi (Soigneur) Jim Bryan (Mechanic), Daniele Nieri (Mechanic), Andreas Beck-Watt (Mechanic), Stevie Christaens (Mechanic)