TDF: Stage 6 win for Lutsenko

Victory for Alexey Lutsenko out of the day’s breakaway as the GC battle takes a day off in the mountains; Adam Yates continues to lead

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TDF: Stage 6 win for Lutsenko

Kazakhstan national champion Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) solo’d to victory on top of Mont Aigoual, a spectacular and unprecedented stage finish in the southern Occitanie region of France. He collected his first ever Tour de France win four days before turning 28 thanks to a well-timed acceleration 4km before the summit of La Lusette with 17.5km to go. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) came second and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) third while Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) retained the yellow jersey.

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There was a peloton of 172 riders starting stage 6 in Le Teil. Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) was the first into action on the uphill start. He was soon rejoined by Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), and a bit later by Neilson Powless (EF), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT), Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).

They opened up a gap to the peloton of 6’45″ at km 87 which meant classics legend Greg Van Avermeat was the virtual leader of the overall classification after 27km. It was a quick opening hour with 51.8km covered by the breakaway riders!

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) consolidated his green jersey by three points at the intermediate sprint won in the front group by Boasson Hagen (km 125.5). The deficit of the peloton decreased to four minutes when Jumbo-Visma took over from Mitchelton-Scott up the category 3 Cap de Coste with 45km to go. As the bunch reached the unprecedented col de la Lusette, Ineos-Grenadier went to the front in numbers and increased the pace.

Meanwhile, the breakway split with birthday boy Powless going on the offensive but Lutsenko was attentive. The Kazakhstani rider rode away solo 4km before the summit and then crested La Lusette alone in the lead, 23 seconds before Herrada and 1’15’’ before Powless and Van Avermaet while the peloton was timed at 3’. Herrada continued to chase hard after the col de la Lusette but Lutsenko didn’t give him a chance to come across.

The Kazakhstani rider was well composed till the end. A double winner of the Tour of Oman overall, he won stage 5 of La Vuelta in 2017 at Alcossebre, also at an uphill finish after a long lasting breakaway. This is his first Tour de France victory. He didn’t threaten the yellow jersey of Yates but Julian Alaphilippe attacked from the bunch in the last kilometre to try and make up some time after he lost the lead on stage 5 due to irregular feeding.

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Adam Yates: “At the start, a big group went up the road. None of them was dangerous so it was about controlling the gap and keeping it as easy as possible. The final climb wasn’t too hard, it was difficult to make a gap there, and therefore attacking would have been a huge effort for a small gain. So we rode steady to save energy for the coming days. I felt pretty good today. I watched the race back when I was a kid, everyone likes to be leader of the Tour de France. It was a delight to wear yellow. Hopefully I’ll keep for a few more days. Let’s first see how…”

“It was nice [the first day in yellow], I think we controlled quite well, it was a strong breakaway and there were a lot of guys that really wanted to go in there today. It was pretty much flat all the way into the climbs, so it was quite hard to control, but I think we did a good job and in the end I still had Mikel and Esteban in the final, so all in all, a good day.”

Photo: Pauline Ballett

“I think just the way the break already had the gap and all the bonuses were already taken, there wasn’t really much to gain from anybody attacking. Also, the final climb wasn’t super steep, so it takes a lot of effort to get a few seconds, so everyone just kept their energy and saved it for a later day. Like I said yesterday, it was a strange situation, but I think we rode well today and hopefully we did the jersey proud. I still want to win a stage, that’s what we came here to do, but it’s pretty hard to throw away time when you’re in the lead, so I think for now we’ll just play it day-by-day and see what happens.

“Tomorrow’s a sprint stage and then we’ve got two really hard stages. These two stages I actually know quite a lot of the climbs, so it’s going to be really tough, but like I said before, we’ve got a super strong team here, not just for the flats but for the climbing stages, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Alexey Lutsenko: “Coming to the Tour de France I had a goal to fight for a stage win. The Tour de France was one of the biggest goals of this season. I was dreaming about this victory for a long time and now my dream came true! Indeed, I was aiming this stage and in previous days after doing my job for Miguel Angel I was dropping from the group, on purpose losing some time in the general classification, hoping that the GC favorites won’t follow me in a decisive moment.”

“Today, before the stage we discussed our tactics for this day, and with sports directors and our general manager Alexandr Vinokurov we decided that I would try to go in a break since it could have a chance to go until the finish. I felt quite good all day and my legs worked pretty well. It took some time for our group to break away from the peloton, but finally, we succeed.”

“It was a long and hot day, but I was guided really nice through the stage by Alexandr Vinokurov, who was in the car behind me. On the last climb I tried to stay calm and to keep on my own rhythm. And on the hardest part I made my attack. I am so happy with this win, it is a big achievement for me and for our team! Also, it is a great feeling to win in the jersey of the national champion of Kazakhstan! I thank my team for this great opportunity and a special thank to all our sponsors and our main partner Samruk-Kazyna, who is supporting us so many years! – said Alexey Lutsenko.

Greg Van Avermaet: “It was a good day to try something. i was still close on GC so I just gave it a go because it was a bit of an uphill start so it was super hard. We had a super strong breakaway so I just gave it a chance and gave it everything I had but I think Lutsenko was super strong, especially on the steep part [of the climb]. I couldn’t find my rhythm anymore and then it was hard to catch him. I’ve been here on vacation so I knew the climb [Col de la Lusette] a little bit and I knew that if I could survive the steepest part then it would be a better climb for me. In the end, it was good to be out there in front and just give everything I had.”

“It was one of the strongest breakaways I’ve been in at the Tour de France and also with this kind of finish, it was a stage where you never really stop, so because of this we had a little bit of an advantage on the GC guys because they were waiting and on a climb like this, a GC guy cannot make the biggest difference. When I saw Herrada and Lutsenko in the breakaway, also Roche, I knew it would not be easy but on a long breakaway day it’s always different to climbing in the bunch so I just gave my best to see how far I could come. I’m happy with my ride today.”

Jesus Herrada(2nd): “I’m happy with my performance but obviously a little disappointed that I couldn’t fight for the final victory. There were some very good riders in the breakaway. It was hard to keep up with the pace but I am happy that I managed to stay in a good position and finish in 2nd place. I am very tired! I will focus on recovering well to be in good shape in the Pyrenees. ”

Nicholas Roche: “I’m exhausted and a bit disappointed,” explained Roche at the finish. “I think I had done pretty well most of the day but unfortunately the change of rhythm on the steep ramps of the first category climb completely killed me. I wanted to be in the breakaway on this stage. I knew that today there was a chance it arrived at the finish, and it did, but unfortunately I wasn’t strong enough to follow the top guys on the second last climb. I wasn’t surprised by the steep ramps because we had studied it really well over the last few days. Today is a day that I had a tick beside; that’s also why I lost time purposely yesterday in the last ten kilometres, to get a bit of a gap for today. Sometimes you know about it but the legs just don’t go with it. I’ll take a stage or so to recover but hopefully over the next few weeks I’d like to be able to give it a go again.”

Sam Bennett: “Wearing this jersey today was amazing, a lovely experience. People applauded me, I heard my name as the stage progressed, and to see the support I got was just beautiful. Coming into the Tour it wasn’t a goal, but it would be a huge honour to win it. I know it’s still a long way to Paris and a lot of work has to be put in to conquer this jersey, but I will take it day by day and see what happens”, Sam said after his first day in green.

Tadej Pogačar: ”The stage proved to be harder than I expected, also because I had to stop for a puncture near the brow of the last climb. The team acted quickly and Polanc came back to wait so I didn’t have to spend too much energy. In view of the finish line I tried to sprint to get into the top 10, but I was a bit boxed in. It is a great feeling to be able to compete with the best riders in the world at the Tour de France. I feel my condition is good but I’m taking it day by day.”

Michal Kwiatkowski: “We know that the climb is pretty tricky in terms of its really bad surface. It was just basically just getting us out of trouble. Being in the wheels on that climb we’d suffer more, so we took the opportunity and we just rode on the front with our own speed, saving energy and trying to stay safe. Mission complete. We were not afraid to take it on and try for the stage win even today. But that was a pretty strong breakaway with the names out there. We knew it wouldn’t be an easy task to shut that down and my money was on the breakaway today.”

Tom Dumoulin: “The race went exactly as we had expected beforehand”, Dumoulin said. “The top of the steep Col de la Lusette was too far from the line to try anything. This was an ideal scenario for us. We don’t have to show ourselves every day. We were still there with five guys at the end. The team is strong and I felt pretty good today. All in all it was a good day.”

Roglic concurred with his teammate. “It was a hard race from the start, so it was not possible to relax. We had to stay sharp and focused all day long. The boys did well again today. So far everything is going according to plan.”

Fellow stage winner Wout van Aert switched back to his domestique role. “Nothing happened GC-wise. The plan was to be in the front all day with Primoz and Tom and bring them to the finish without any problems. We succeeded at that. We chose to save a bit of energy today. The Tour is still long and there are still plenty of tough days to come. It was a fast stage, so we couldn’t rest on our laurels either. The team is in a good place and our leaders are in good shape.”

Nairo Quintana: “This 6th stage was very difficult with this series of passes in the final, the breakaway which started early meant that we drove very fast all day. The pace set in the passes was also very fast too. I was perfectly supported by Warren whom I thank once again, we both fought well in the final. He has been a great support to me. I would also like to express my gratitude once again to the whole team. But also to underline the magnificent help that Winner has given me today, in particular by protecting me perfectly on the descents and avoiding any breaks “.

Warren Barguil: “The stage went well for us, the whole team once again worked in unison for Nairo. From the first climber it climbed very quickly. Winner and I accompanied Nairo during the last kilometers of this sixth stage of the Tour de France, in the final, one kilometer from the line, I accelerated in order to tighten the peloton so that no one could climb up Nairo. As he was in a good position, if there had been a little break, as can happen on this type of punchy finish, he could have recovered, who knows, a few short seconds. It was my mission. I filled it. I think everyone is happy tonight. We have two great stages left in the Pyrenees before entering the rest day. I think they will be disputed. ”

1. Alexey Lutsenko Astana Pro Team 04:32:34 120
2. Jesus Herrada Cofidis @ 55 50
3. Greg Van Avermaet CCC Team @ 02:15 25
4. Neilson Powless EF Pro Cycling @ 02:17 15
5. Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 02:52 5
6. Bauke Mollema Trek-Segafredo @ 02:53
7. Michal Kwiatkowski INEOS Grenadiers @ 02:53
8. Egan Bernal INEOS Grenadiers @ 02:53
9. Richard Carapaz INEOS Grenadiers @ 02:53
10. Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott @ 02:53

11. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates @ 02:53
13. Nairo Quintana Team Arkea-Samsic @ 02:53
14. Thibaut Pinot Groupama-FDJ @ 02:53
15. Tom Dumoulin Team Jumbo – Visma @ 02:53
18. Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale @ 02:53
19. Emanuel Buchmann Bora-Hansgrohe @ 02:53
21. Primoz Roglic Team Jumbo – Visma @ 02:53
22. Rigoberto Uran EF Pro Cycling @ 02:53
23. Pierre Rolland B&B Hotels-Vital Concept @ 02:53
24. Enric Mas Movistar Team @ 02:53
25. Miguel Angel Lopez Astana Pro Team @ 02:53
26. Mikel Landa Bahrain-McLaren @ 02:53
30. Richie Porte Trek-Segafredo @ 02:53
31. Hugh Carthy EF Pro Cycling @ 02:53
67. Wout Van Aert Team Jumbo – Visma @ 15:42
71. Daniel Martin Israel Start-Up Nation @ 16:47
125. Jack Bauer Mitchelton-Scott @ 31:09
127. Connor Swift Team Arkea-Samsic @ 31:09
149. Luke Rowe INEOS Grenadiers @ 31:09

1 Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott 27:03:57
2 Primoz Roglic Team Jumbo – Visma @ 03
3 Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates @ 07
4 Guillaume Martin Cofidis @ 09
5 Egan Bernal INEOS Grenadiers @ 13
6 Tom Dumoulin Team Jumbo – Visma @ 13
7 Esteban Chaves Mitchelton-Scott @ 13
8 Nairo Quintana Team Arkea-Samsic @ 13
9 Romain Bardet AG2R La Mondiale @ 13
10 Miguel Angel Lopez Astana Pro Team @ 13
11 Bauke Mollema Trek-Segafredo @ 13
12 Thibaut Pinot Groupama-FDJ @ 13
13 Mikel Landa Bahrain-McLaren @ 13
14 Rigoberto Uran EF Pro Cycling @ 13
15 Richie Porte Trek-Segafredo @ 13
16 Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 15
17 Emanuel Buchmann Bora-Hansgrohe @ 22
18 Enric Mas Movistar Team @ 22
19 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team @ 34
20 Richard Carapaz INEOS Grenadiers @ 41

30 Hugh Carthy EF Pro Cycling @ 04:04

Full Result Here:

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