Gino Mader took stage six of the Giro d’Italia 2021 holding off a group of four of the big favourites led by Egan Bernal, with Attila Valter going into the pink jersey.
Mader (Bahrain Victorious) attacked the day's main breakaway with 3km to go before soloing to the finish to get his first professional win ahead of Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) in second with Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) taking the the next respective placings.
The pink jersey of Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) lost touch on the penultimate climb of the day as Ineos Grenadiers hit the front and took control in the crosswinds, obliterating the group.
Ineos then controlled the race all the way until about 5km to go when Deceuninck - Quick-Step took over before Ineos started the attacks. Everyone was brought back apart from Mader who took the win.
Valter (Groupama-FDJ) becomes the first-ever Hungarian to wear a jersey at a Grand Tour, he has ridden in the white jersey these past two stages but took the pink jersey after finishing well with the favourites.
Stage seven will likely go back to sprinting with a flattish 181km stage from Notaresco all the way to Termoli. Just the one categorised climb early on in the day before the stage gets flatter and flatter with a small rise to the line.
How it happened
The sixth day of the Giro d’Italia 2021 saw the arrival of the first proper mountains, with a summit finish at the end of 160km from Grotte di Frasassi to Ascoli Piceno, San Giacomo with two categorised climbs in the middle of the stage.
The breakaway took a long time to get away with six riders eventually getting clear after various huge groups of riders tried and failed. The six riders were Dario Cataldo (Movistar), Simon Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ), Simone Ravanelli (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Fenix), Mader and Matej Mohorič (both Bahrain Victorious).
Two very talented riders spent a very long time trying to bridge but the gap to Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën) just kept on growing. Eventually the race settled down and the chasers made it up to the breakaway which had a five-minute gap on the peloton at the base of the first climb to Forca di Gualdo.
The pace rocketed on the descent of the first climb of the race as Ineos Grenadiers upped the pace with Filippo Ganna motoring on the front with Gianni Moscon, Jonathan Castroviejo, Jhonatan Narvaez and Salvatore Puccio all working for their leader, Bernal with 65km to go.
Ineos Grenadiers’ pacing split the peloton to bits with the pink jersey of De Marchi in the second group with only one team-mate of Guy Niv able to support him.
The wind then picked up and Ineos pushed the race across the road which decimated the peloton as the entire Ineos squad started hammering it on the front. This brought some panic from the other overall contenders who did manage to bridge back on the gap.
Meanwhile, at the front of the race in the breakaway the race officials were having to hold the mountain points banners up with most of the advertising put away as the wind was too strong. Mohorič led over the top to the descent.
Bouchard, Guglielmi, Janssens, and Ravanelli all got dropped on the descent due to Mohoričs pacing for his team-mate, Mader with Cataldo and Mollema holding onto the group.
Ciccone, Alberto Bettiol (EF-Nippo) and Romain Bardet (DSM) used the wet descent to get off the front of the peloton to aim for the stage and to potentially move up in the overall. They then caught the riders dropped from the break with 26km to go.
But the Ineos Grenadiers-led peloton caught the break that included Bardet, Bettiol and Ciccone. Ganna continued to chase with Narvaez and Puccio right at the base of the final climb with 15km to go.
The breakaway held a gap of 2-45 to the peloton with over nine minutes back to the pink jersey of De Marchi.
Mohorič swung off the front of the break with 13km to go with a 2-33 gap to the Ineos Grenadiers led peloton, leaving to it Mollema, Cataldo, and Mader.
Back in the peloton, Pieter Serry (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) was hit by a BikeExchange team car who was trying to pass something to a commissaire car.
George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) was dropped with 10km to go as he continued to suffer at his first race where he had led the team. His team-mate, Koen Bouwman was brought back. Ganna pulled off the front and passed over to Castroviejo with 8km to go.
Bennett was dragged back a kilometre later and moved towards the front of the leading group again by his team with Tobias Foss also still there to support his leader.
Team DSM, Astana-Premier Tech, and Deceuninck - Quick-Step swamped Ineos Grenadiers in the final 5km as the pace slackened but the gap dropped to 1-20 to the leaders on the hardest gradients of the climb.
Mader attacked Cataldo and Mollema with 3km to go and started putting a big gap into his break partners. Back at the peloton, Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) was the first to test the legs of the now Deceuninck-led group.
Last year’s second overall, Jai Hindley (DSM) was the first big name to really lose touch to the rest of the bunch due to João Almeida leading the way with Evenepoel on his wheel.
Bernal attacked with 1.5km to go, straight up and past Martínez, his team-mate. Ciccone and Evenepoel managed to follow with Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) leading the chase group catching Cataldo and Mollema.
Vlasov pulled it back with Martin, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Simon Yates (BikeExchange).
Bernal kicked again, dragging Evenepoel, Ciccone and Martin with them as they went under the flamme rouge.
Mader managed to hold off the main GC names to take the stage solo with Bernal leading in Martin, Evenepoel and Ciccone with Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) leading in the next group.
Valter holds onto the pink jersey by 11 seconds ahead of Evenepoel with Bernal at 16 seconds as the race heads towards the end of the first week.
Giro d’Italia 2021, stage six: Grotte di Frasassi to Ascoli Piceno, San Giacomo (160km)
1. Gino Mader (Sui) Bahrain Victorious, in 4-17-52
2. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 12s
3. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation
4. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, all at same time
5. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 14s
6. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 25s
7. Dani Martínez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time
8. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar Team, at 27s
9. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at 29s
10. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at same time
General classification after stage six
1. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ, in 22-17-06
2. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 11s
3. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, at 16s
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at 24s
5. Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, at 25s
6. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at 38s
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 39s
8. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 41s
9 Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 47s
10. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, at 49s
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