Luka Piebernik (Lampre-Merida) showed he was the fastest from a 5 rider breakaway that just held off the peloton into Lanaken today. Mark McNally (Wanty Gobert) was 2nd and 3rd place went to Bert van Lerberghe (Topsport-Vlaanderen). Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) held on to the overall race lead.
The 6th stage of the Eneco Tour was touted as a mini Amstel Gold with a few short sharp climbs, resembling the Dutch classic in the later half of today’s stage. 6 riders formed the early break of the day and BMC Racing controlled proceedings from the peloton for most of the day. BMC were happy to let the gap grow to 4’30” which they then hoped would discourage any other teams from attacking their race leader later on in the stage.
With 60km to go, the gap had come down to 2’30” just as the race entered some hillier terrain. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were looking to get something out of today and so were very active in the final hour and a half of the stage. Johann van Zyl, Jay Thomson and Tyler Farrar were doing a great job to keep Edvald Boasson Hagen, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Nathan Haas positioned at the head of the peloton.
A few attacks started to come from the peloton on the steeper gradients and Haas showed he was going well by covering multiple moves. Nothing was really sticking though even though the peloton gradually started to lose numbers. The gap to the breakaway slowly began to dwindle but they were not giving up. Boasson Hagen was always protected and ready to pounce on any attack from the favourites but none were forthcoming.
It seemed just when the pressure in the peloton reached a boiling point there was a slight lull which prevented a real crack from taking place. It became apparent with 20km to go, there would be no GC selection today and the best our African Team could hope for was a sprint finish. The break had lost a single rider in the run into the final while the peloton still trailed by 50″ with 10km to go.
A crash which saw our South African, Janse van Rensburg hit the deck, disturbed the rhythm of the chase and it was really touch and go as to whether the break would make it. Thomson, Farrar, Haas and Youcef Reguigui were still there to support Boasson Hagen in the sprint but there just wasn’t enough pace at the head of the peloton to reel in the break. Coming into the home straight the break was committed and arrived first with 5 seconds to spare. Boasson Hagen put in a good sprint and took 3rd from the bunch but it saw him finish 8th on the stage.
Jay Thomson – Rider
After it has been a real up and down week for us, we were super motivated to deliver Edvald to a stage win today. The stage was pretty similar to all the other stages so far with the break going fast and then the fight for the final was crazy. Our job was to deliver Tyler, Reinardt and Edvald to the last 6.5km because it was super technical. Sadly we lost Reinardt to a crash at 8km to go. Edvald did a goo job to get 3rd in the bunch sprint but unfortunately the break was still away so he finished 8th. Tomorrow there is a super hard final lap so we will be going all in and hopefully Edvald can show his strength and finish this disappointing week on a high note.