In a spectacular drag race sprint finish, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the 6th Tirreno-Adriatico stage. Our very own Gerald Ciolek was the rider in 2nd place with Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) 3rd.
In a nail biting finale for MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung fans, the African team took to the head of the race with 2km to go. Matt Goss did a stellar job, bringing the boys to the head of the race and then driving the pace upward. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg was next to take over as he held good speed to drop off Edvald Boasson Hagen and Gerald Ciolek in prime position with 500m to go.
It was a textbook leadout by the African team as Edvald hit the front with Gerald on his wheel at the 350m to go sign. The German speedster then started his sprint over the final 150m. Sagan, who was right on Gerald’s wheel showed some terrific acceleration to come over our former Milan Sanremo victor just before the line.
Mother Nature would not be kind to the riders today as a torrential downpour was the order of the day. The 3 riders who formed the early break of the day stood no chance, particularly when the GC riders came out to play on the Montelparo climb and all but nullified the escapes advantage with 70km to go. This same injection of pace also saw a number of sprinters like Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quickstep) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) permanently distanced from the peloton.
Two riders tried their luck with a late escape over the final 20km’s but they weren’t going anywhere on the slippery and rain soaked roads. The conditions certainly suited Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung though with Gerald no stranger to winning in inclement weather. Although we could not put the cherry on the cake, it was an encouraging sign to see the leadout working so well for the African team just days before the Milan-Sanremo. Steve Cummings also retained his top 10 GC position and is poised to give the final time trial a good bash tomorrow.
Gerald Ciolek – Rider
It was a long, rainy and cold day. I was feeling good, even on the climbs. The team worked great throughout the whole stage and then did a world class leadout in the finale. Sagan just had the better kick in the end. I am really happy to see the whole team going well and working so well together.
Jens Zemke – Head of Performance
Everything that our team is about, changing the lives of people in Africa by mobilizing them with bicycles was on display today. The boys were a fantastic promotion of our cause and showed the strength we have as well as the connection we share today. To finish 2nd behind Sagan is a nice exclamation mark. I am very happy for Gerald who is ready for next weeks Milan-Sanremo, as well as our other boys.