Giro d’Italia Stage 6

As expected, with the riders heading into the mountains for a summit finish, stage 6 was a thriller with Gino Mader just holding on to win the stage from the breakaway, Attila Valter taking the pink jersey and Egan Bernal again showing he’s the strongest on the climbs

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Giro d’Italia Stage 6

The sixth stage in this years Giro’d’Italia featured the first mountain top finish of this year’s race and heavy rain made for another tough day in the saddle. After 160 km across the heights of The Marches region, the race for the stage and the overall would see hard fought battles on the slopes of the final climb, in the town of Ascoli Piceno.

Photo Giro d’Italia Website

The finish was on top of a 15.5 km climb averaging 6% but had steeper sections near the top, providing springboards for those with the legs to put time into their rivals. In addition to the final climb, two other categorised mountains were located around the halfway point: Forca di Gualdo (10.5 km at 7%) and Forca di Presta (4.9 km at 4.8%). The race began with a big group going clear with the Isle of Man’s Mark Christian in it but the teammates of the pink jersey De Marchi (Israel startup Nation), did not want such a large group to go clear which is why that groups break for freedom was taken from them.

The days big breakaway left a few minutes later when six riders, then joined by Mollema (Trek) and Bouchard (Ag2r), then built up a maximum advantage of six minutes. On the climb of Forca di Gualdo and the crosswinds, the peloton split into two as INEOS put the hammer down. A peloton of 35 of the strongest riders left the pink jersey behind in torrential rain. At the bottom of the Forca di Presta descent, the breakaway lead was down to three minutes. The leading riders, now down to four (ino Mader, Matej Mohoric, Dario Cataldo, Bauke Mollema), tackled the final climb of San Giacomo.

The eventual stage winners teammate Matej Mohoric drove the breakaway along as the pace started to accelerate in the peloton and Mohoric gave  his all before it was left to Mader, Dario Cataldo, Bauke Mollema. The three were setting a hot pace and holding a good gap to the GC chase group before Mader went solo, winning the stage and the only rider from the breakaway not to be caught by what was a full on GC battle over the last few kilometres of the climb.

It was Bernal who set the GC battle alight just as the gradients stiffened, taking with him the likes of Dan Martin and Remco Evenepoel and whilst the gaps behind were only seconds, for the second mountain stage running, Bernal was showing who was the favourite for this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Gino Mader Stage Winner:
Q: Gino, it was like the end of the world for your team yesterday, and now you’ve bounced back!
A: “Yeah, I think we can really say it like this. Yesterday was such a sad day losing Mikel, and, yeah, today we just said we’re going to ride in honour of Mikels’ lost GC ambition, and we put everything in the breakaway and luckily Mateij was super, super strong. And, ah, it’s such a nice feeling after Paris-Nice missing so little, and now being on the top step is, like, it’s super nice.”

Q: When you were thinking of that moment in Paris-Nice when Roglic caught you, did you know how far the riders were behind?
A: “Actually, as soon as I was alone and, er, the last survivor of the breakaway, everything I could think of was Paris-Nice, and there was just this sharp doubt in my head that it’s going to happen the same, but with 100m to go I could finally celebrate and like really, really enjoy the moment and now it’s just such a sweet feeling.”

Q: Did you know you were the first Gino to win a stage at the Giro since Gino Bartali?
A:“Well, it’s a big honour to have the same name as such a legend of cycling. I’m probably never going to be there. I’ll just enjoy the moment now. Thanks very much to the team and great work everybody.”

Pink jersey Attila Valter
With the white jersey on his shoulders since the finish in Sestola on stage 4, Attila Valter was already living a little dream on the Giro. He probably didn’t imagine how big that dream would become on Thursday, towards Ascoli Piceno. “It’s good to joke about it in the morning, but to really believe in it is a different story,” he said later. “I couldn’t be more surprised and happier, but yes, I was planning to do it,” said Attila in his first interview.

“I knew I had good climbing legs on this Giro and that I could do better than those ahead of me in GC. I just had to hang on with the best climbers today. I was really motivated to do so. I didn’t know everything about the gaps, but I tried to keep eyes on everyone. I knew Vlasov was 24 seconds behind me overall, Remco 28 and Bernal 39. On the last climb, I couldn’t think about the pain, I only had the pink jersey in mind.”

Photo: team FDJ

“The more the kilometres went by, the more I believed in it. I knew the leaders were going to attack but I had the legs to limit my losses. In these situations, motivation obviously gives extra power. When I crossed the line, I looked at who was around me, and I thought, “I did it” but no one had the official information. After two minutes, someone from the organization said to me: “You have the pink jersey”. It was an incredible feeling. I still can’t believe it’s true. It’s the most beautiful day of my life! I could cry. I am so happy. I just hope to enjoy this jersey with the team as much as possible”.

Team boss Marc Madiot savoured the moment. “I hadn’t seen it coming at all,” he confessed on Thursday night. “I hadn’t even seen him with the rain jackets! Having the pink jersey in the team has not happened to us since Bradley McGee (in 2004). It’s good for Attila, who is rewarded today. It’s also a very good thing for the whole team. We didn’t take the start with a group that looked very dominant on paper, but at the end of the day, we’ve already done some great things. The pink jersey is the icing on the cake for this first week of racing. They’re committed, they are in the game and it will open doors for them in the head”.

“In Hungary, it was already incredible with the white jersey, but I think it will get crazy now,” concluded Attila. “My father is in the Tour of Hungary, he told me that at the finish they showed the stage of the Giro and that everyone was supporting me. I’m happy to be the first Hungarian to take this jersey. I hope it will give cycling a big boost in my country”.

Other Reactions

Egan Bernal: “The original plan was to not lose time in what was the first test in a longer climb, we weren’t sure how the legs were going to be, we were going to be conservative but anyway, during the race we realised that we were feeling good, it started to rain and we wanted to be at the front.

“There was a moment in the race where there was the opportunity for us to control of the race, we had the idea to take the opportunity where we knew there was going to be winds at a certain point.

“I think it was an aggressive race, in the end in the headwind, people in the wheels were able to conserve some energy, so the strategy wasn’t quite a successful, but anyway it all worked out, we didn’t lose any time, a few seconds with a couple of our riders, but we’re taking it bit-by-bit.

“It was hard, but it was also amazing, we didn’t wait, it wasn’t planned, we arrived at that point and Pippo pulled, even though I was on his wheel I could tell there was a bit of wind, we went round a few bends, I spoke with the riders, with Castro and said if we pull now we can do some damage, and he said if you think so, I’ll speak with the riders.

“Pippo and the others went full gas, with everything that they had until the first mountain, and although it didn’t do exactly what we wanted, you have to take those opportunities.”

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Dan Martin: “With the cold, the rain, and the wind, this turned out to be a big test. The last 65-70 km were really difficult. On the descent, I was so cold I could barely control my bike. It was a big help for me that the guys did such a good job for me, always keeping me in a good position. Just before we started the final climb, one of the BORA riders crashed right in front me and I couldn’t avoid going down as well. However, I got up quickly, and Paddy [Bevin] did a great job to bring me back to a good position near the front of the group.

“I didn’t really plan to do anything today, I just wanted to stay in the wheels and watch the other guys and that’s basically what I did. I felt pretty good though. Usually, these are not really conditions that suit me, so when I have good legs in these conditions, it also shows how good my shape is. This gives me a lot of comfort going forward; and now, we just want to continue this amazing start to the Giro we have had.”

Simon Yates: “It was another tricky stage with the changing conditions. I think I rode ok, nothing really special. I have lost a few seconds to the front guys, but you can see a lot of the other GC guys were struggling with the conditions today.

There’s only been two real days for the GC guys other than the prologue, but the other days here have also been stressful with the wind. I think so far this Giro has been challenging just from these ever-changing conditions and it looks set to continue that way, so it going to be hard.”

Remco Evenepoel: “I am happy with how I felt on the final climb. It wasn’t easy out there with the low temperatures we had and all that rain, but I had an amazing team around me, who made things much easier and protected me all the time, for which I am very grateful. Thanks to their effort, I could keep my energy for the final climb, where I got a good result. Now it’s time for some rest, but the good thing is that six days into the race we are up there, which is great for the confidence”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s 21-year-old Grand Tour debutant.

Photo Giro d’Italia Website

Aleksandr Vlasov: “It was a very hard day, especially with the cold weather. I really couldn’t feel my arms or legs so I suffered a lot. On the downhill I didn’t want to push too hard and then on the final climb, I gave everything I had. I had great support from Harold Tejada so I was able to save some energy going into the final kilometres. It was not easy as I didn’t feel anything but I just tried to stay with the best as long as possible. I was able to answer the first attack but the second time Bernal went, I wasn’t able to stay on the wheel so I just held my own rhythm until the finish line. I did my best and in general, I am happy. Now we just keep taking things day by day and see what happens,” Vlasov said.

Emanuel Buchmann: “It was an extremely tough stage under harsh conditions, very wet and cold. The team put in a strong effort to help me and in particular, Felix and Matteo provided solid support in the final kilometres. Unfortunately, Felix wasn’t able to come back after he crashed but Matteo was with me in the final, decisive, climb. I did my absolute best to stay as long as I could with the group of favourites in the last climb and try to limit any time losses as much as possible. We’ve had some awful weather in this first part of the Giro and I hope it improves from here on.” –

Rein Taaramäe: “The pace was very high all day. The start of the stage was particularly difficult for me, because of the numerous attacks to make the breakaway. But as the kilometers went on, I felt better and better. I fed well all day and wore enough layers to fight the rain and cold. In the final climb, I did my best to follow the favorites as long as possible. If they hadn’t fought for the stage victory, I might have been able to finish on their heels. But the pace was very intense, attacking was not an option either. This is an encouraging result for me, because usually my best form comes in the third week.”

Bauke Mollema: With five kilometers to go, Bauke Mollema was ready to try and win the stage but he was ultimately unable to follow his breakaway rival Gino Mäder. “I was pretty close, but I didn’t really have my legs on the final climb,” said Mollema.

The Dutchman, who is already well behind in the general classification, wanted to take a shot at the stage victory today. However, the climber had to work hard in the first hours of racing to be able to keep up with the early break at all as it didn’t want Mollema in their numbers. “The two of us rode about thirty kilometers behind the leading group. I had to waste a lot of energy. That was not ideal.”

“At one point the difference was ten seconds, but then the gap widened again. We almost wanted to throw in the towel, but just then there was another small climb. I then made one last attempt to close the gap. We then got back to twenty seconds and then they decided to slow down a bit at the front.” “So in the end we managed to bridge the gap, but then the best was off”, Mollema continues. “I tried to get a good result out of the fire, but I didn’t feel so good after that. The weather made it even more difficult.

Romain Bardet: “It was a really hard day out there today with the rain, cold and the difficult parcours as well,” explained Bardet. “It’s another tricky day done and complete. On the descent of the climb, I found myself off the front but that didn’t work out in the end. Then on the final climb we gave it our best and are still up there in a good place on GC.”



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