Davide Cimolai finally landed Lampre-Merida their first victory of the season, in an exciting bunch finish in the penultimate stage of the Volta a Catalunya.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) finished safely in the bunch to retain his overall lead in the GC.
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The final four survivors of the day’s break, Cameron Meyer (Dimension Data), Bert-Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis), were only caught in the final few hundred meters.
Cimolai even used their slipstreams to lead out his sprint as the peloton made the catch, only starting his sprint with around 100 meters to go to comfortably beat Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) into second and third.
Sky’s Ben Swift was not present to contest the sprint, having abandoned the race overnight due to illness.
The Italian’s victory was just rewards for the Lampre-Merida domestiques, who did much of the donkey work at the front of the peloton to bring the break back.
Along with the aforementioned quartet, the break initially also included Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo), Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge), Laurens Ten Dam (Giant-Alpecin), Alex Howes (Cannondale), Axel Domont (Ag2r La Mondiale), Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Romain Hardy (Cofidis).
They gained a lead of over five minutes at one point, but enough intent was shown by the peloton to keep them under control for the most part. It wasn’t until the final 5km or so, once the break had been whittled down to just four riders, that they seemed to have any chance of making it. With just a few hundred metres to go Meyer was at the front with a gap of a few bike lengths, having made a last gasp attack.
Meyer could not quite sustain his speed however, and was swallowed up by the bunch with just a few more pedal strokes to the finish.
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Earlier in the day, Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) had again sprinted for the bonus at the intermediate sprint, earning another three seconds to bring him within just one second of the podium.
He now has just one more day to survive in order to seal overall victory, but is likely to face attacks in tomorrow’s hilly final stage circuit in Barcelona.
Volta a Catalunya, stage six Sant Joan Despí –Vilanova i la Geltrú (197km)
1. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida in 4-35-15
2. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
3. Tosh van der Sande (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
4. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Daryl Impey (RSa) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx-QuickStep
7. Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha
8. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
9. Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
10. Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ, all same time
General classification after stage six
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 23-07-41
2. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff at 7 secs
3. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing at 17 secs
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx-QuickStep at 18 secs
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 27 secs
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r at 31 secs
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 42 secs
8. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 46 secs
9. Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural at 1-01
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling at 1-16