Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) won stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia, crossing the line alone with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) taking 2nd and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) 3rd place. By finishing 4th, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) kept the pink leader’s jersey.
Today was the first real mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia as riders took on 157km from Ponte to Roccaraso. There were 2 category 2 climbs to be dealt with today with the finish being at the top of the final category 2 climb. Initially there was 3 riders who formed the break of the day but 1 rider would get dropped on the first cat 2 climb and then after a tricky descent, 3 riders from the peloton took their chance to jump across the 2-minute gap to make it 5 riders in the lead, with 70km to go.
Wellens, Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal) and Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) were the 3 opportunists who joined Eugbert Zhupa (Willier-Southeast) and Alessandro Bisolti (Nippo-Vini Fantini) at the front. The peloton allowed the gap to balloon to over 8 minutes before Giant-Alpecin and Orica-Greenedge started to ride on the front. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were protecting Merhawi Kudus and Siutsou for the final climb, which began with around 18km to go.
With 13km to go, Wellens attacked and dropped his breakaway counterparts. With the peloton over 4’30” behind, the stage looked to be in the bag for Wellens for quite some time. A little further down the road the action began in the main group when Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) attacked with 7km to go and Siutsou followed shortly after. Siutsou had to close a gap of around 30 seconds to Fuglsang but when he did, the duo went off in pursuit of the lead riders.
Siutsou and Fuglsang caught and passed all the riders up the road except for Wellens who went on to take a nice win. A few late attacks saw the main group thin out drastically and Zakarin and Dumoulin were able to come across to Siutsou and Fuglsang with 1km to go. The quartet crossed the line together with Siutsou taking a fine 5th place for our African Team, he also moved up to 10th on the overall GC. Igor Anton also did a really good ride after playing a support role to our Belorussian throughout the day, and he finished 16th to end off a good day for our African Team.
Kanstantsin Siutsou – Rider
It was a unique situation because normally Astana would start the final climb fast. When you see their 2nd rider attack, Fuglsang, and they normally ride for Nibali, you need to understand the situation. It was one I have seen many times before and nobody was following him because it was a reduced group. I wanted to follow him immediately but I didn’t have space to move out of the group. So he had 30 seconds but I attacked and tried to control my pace when going across to him. When I reached him he tried to put me under pressure by going really hard but I just remained calm. The climb was very up and down and the flat piece was really windy but I was always focused and staying calm and patient, knowing the group behind are going to react soon because we had 45 seconds. Then we just went as hard as we could and waited to see who would arrive. Zakarin and Dumoulin came with 1km to go. I wasn’t really feeling great in the last kilometers but then in the final when I had to close a small gap I could feel there was still something left in the legs. This was really good for the head, it showed me it is possible to stay in the front the next days, I just need to try.