An action-packed day's racing reached a thrilling climax as Sky's David Lopez sprinted to victory on the iconic La Redoute climb.
The Spaniard, who struggled for form in support of Chris Froome at the Tour de France last month, was one of three survivors from the group of the day, along with Maciej Paterski (Cannondale) and Angel Madrazo(Movistar). While this pair was caught by a chase group led by Zdenek Stybar(Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in the final kilometre and finished third and sixth respectively, Lopez was able to jump them both and hold on for the win.
Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano), meanwhile, inherits the white leader's jersey from Lars Boom(Belkin) thanks to his fourth place finish. The young Dutchman displayed tremendous strength in single handedly pacing the chase group in the final ten kilometres and allowing only Stybar to pass him in the finale.
Stybar moves into second overall in a much changed GC top ten, which sees Andriy Grivko (Astana), Jan Bakelants (RadioShaack-Leopard), Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) and Lieuwe Westra (Vaconsoleil) all rise into the top six, having formed part of Dumoulin's group. They move ahead of Lars Boom and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who were unable to bridge the gap from their group to Dumoulin's.
The route saw the rider's tackle the lumpy terrain of the
Ardennes, and, with its three accents of La Redoute, resembled a mini Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The 2011 winner of that race, Philippe Gilbert, endured another difficult day as he went down in a crash 60 kilometres from the finish. Though he was able to gradually make his way back into the peloton, the 25 kilometre chase took too much out of the Belgian and he was unable to match the later attacks.
The terrain encouraged the kind of racing we're used toseeing in the spring classics, with frequent attacks and an ever changing race scenario. Omega Pharma-Quick Step were particularly aggressive with Nikki Terpstra, Sylvain Chavanel and Kevin de Weert all attempting ultimately fruitless attacks.
The Belgian outfit will however be optimistic of disposing Dumoulin from the top of the GC with their man Stybar, who currently lies just eight seconds adrift.
Stage six result
1 David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky, 3:51:13
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +2secs
3 Maciej Paterski (Pol) Cannondale, same time
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos-Shimano, +3
5 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Leopard, st
6 Angel Madrazo (Spa) Movistar, st
7 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, st
8 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
9 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Garmin-Sharp, +12
10 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ, st
1 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos-Shimano, 20:04:03
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +9secs
3 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana, +24
4 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Leopard, +29
5 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEDGE, same time
6 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, +37
7 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +50
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, +1:07
9 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEDGE, +1:16
10 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana, +1:33
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