Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) came from absolutely nowhere to take the sprint into Matera on stage six of the Giro d’Italia 2020.
Bora-Hansgrohe put in a huge amount of work for Peter Sagan but ended up not being up in the sprint at all.
Démare beat Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Fabio Felline (Astana) to the line and takes the points jersey from Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) keeps pink.
How it happened
The riders started in the town of Castrovillari and covered an undulating route of 188km to Matera.
The break went away early on with the stage starting on a climb to the Valico di Campotenese, which was amazingly not a categorised climb.
The four-man break had a few more climbs to cover before settling down and pulling out gap of just over nine minutes.
The break was made up of James Whelan (EF Pro Cycling), Mattia Bais (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM) and Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè).
Behind, team of the pink jersey, Almeida, only had one man on the front, letting the gap drift out and trying to force another team to work for a potential sprint.
Once the gap got close to nine minutes, however, Almeida’s team decided to take full control with multiple riders on the front with 127km to go.
Bais took the first intermediate sprint but the focus was on the peloton behind, Démare took four points with Sagan losing out on three points due to his team-mate, Maciej Bodnar.
With 95km to go, Bora then came up and took control as they started to try and bring the break back for their main man, Sagan.
This brought the gap right down and the peloton then had the breakaway under control and by the second intermediate sprint, with 52km to go, they only had just over two minutes.
The intermediate sprint saw Frapporti just having the legs over Bais to take the bonus seconds and the prize money.
With 35km to go Almeida pulled to the side of the road to try and fix his radio with Ilio Keisse, his team-mate, but Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) was not able to see him and crashed into the back of him.
The race leaders and the young American rider were both okay and made it back in as the peloton sat up to let Almeida back in.
With 29km to go the riders hit the one and only categorised climb and the break broke down with Whelan pushing on, dropping the three Italians with the WorldTour rider proving to be stronger than the ProTour riders.
Whelan went over the top of the climb with just 50 seconds, meanwhile Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) attacked for the points, taking third and then he pushed on, Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) came flying out of the peloton to join the Belgian.
But it was Bora-Hansgrohe who closed that down very quickly. The peloton began to think of a sprint finish with just Whelan left to catch and he was caught with 13km to go.
The GC teams caused a bit of chaos as they tried to keep their leaders safe until Ganna and Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) took control as they headed onto the climb up to the line with 3.5km to go.
Ineos lost control and it was taken up by Bora yet again but Sagan only had Rafał Majka left to work for him and the Slovakian sprinter was swamped in the last corner, finishing down in eighth.
It was the French champion who appeared from nowhere to pop up and put in an incredibly powerful sprint to win his second stage of this year’s race.
The stage win put him into the purple points jersey with Almeida keeping pink.
Giro d’Italia 2020, stage six: Castrovillari to Matera (187.7km)
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, in 4-54-38
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
3. Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana
4. Juan Sebastian Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates
5. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-Up Nation
6. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale
7. Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bahrain-McLaren
10. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, all at same time.
General classification after stage six
1. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, in 17-06-23
2. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, at 43 seconds
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 48s
4. Harm Vanhoecke (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 59s
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-01
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling, at 1-05
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 1-19
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-21
9. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-26
10. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-32