Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) won the 6th stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico by out sprinting Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky). Van Avermaet also took over the race leaders blue jersey heading into tomorrow’s final stage.
It was a rather uneventful stage to begin with as the first 180km of the stage was almost pan flat. 6 riders got away in the opening 10km and after reaching a 6-minute advantage, a number of teams including our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders began working on the front of the peloton.
The escapees didn’t have much hope of succeeding as most teams believed today’s finale, which concluded with 2 laps of a local circuit in Cepagatti, would suit a mass sprint. The breakaway was caught just before the race reached the circuit with 25km to go. It was on the first of the 2 laps where the race would take a pivotal turn, particularly for our African Team.
A select group of 6 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 our Belorussian was standing on the roadside, Kristian Sbaragli had a front wheel flat a kilometer further up the road. These events totally derailed our chase effort and allowed the front 6 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 our 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. Our African Team riders rolled across the line without contesting for the minor placings.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
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.